Friday, October 30, 2015

Science vs. God: The First Creation Account

In the first post, I talked a little about the second account of creation and how that does not seem inconsistent with science (at least to me). In the second post, let's talk a bit about the first creation account- those infamous 7 days.

Okay, I've already told you that while I believe that there is truth in the creation account in that God created the world and that He did so in an orderly manner, I am in no way tied to the idea that the those so-called "7 days" were actually 24 hour periods, nor that there were literally 7 of them. It is teaching a certain point, not that it has to be literally true. For example, we need to understand that for the Hebrews, 7 was a sacred number of completion or perfection (please feel free to double check my understanding of that, I'm working from memory on that one, and may be a little off). In other words, there was an order to creation and it was done well or even perfectly done.

We're not going to start with the Bible today, we're going to start with wikipedia. I know, it's not very scientific of me, but I wanted to review the history of the earth and I don't have all year. (In other words, I'm not going for exact science here, but general ideas, so even though I'm trying to be correct, this is not meticulous.) The theory is that after the Big Bang, there was a formation of the solar system and the sun, followed by the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago. Initially the earth was basically hot magma, but as it began to cool and crust, it allowed for the condensation of water over the surface of that. There is a hypothesis that as the crust began to form, there was an impact with this photo-earth with another proto-planet that caused ejection of part of the earth's mantle that formed the moon. (Fascinating, no? I guess I never thought about exactly how the moon came to be.)

Anyway, to the best of my understanding, as the crust began to cool somewhat, it allowed for condensation and the oceans to form. Continents, though different than ours now, would have formed and eventually the change in the atmosphere would have allowed for the growth of bacteria, which led to greater oxygen in the atmosphere, and allowed for the formation of more life as we know it. Interestingly, the article referred to 3 atmospheres, the first being elements of helium and hydrogen from the solar nebula, the second caused by (as best as I can understand it) from a combination of the earth letting off gases and from anything coming into the earth's atmosphere at the time being vaporized. This led to an atmosphere of water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and smaller amounts of other gases. The article is not very clear on the 3rd atmosphere. (What? Wikipedia is an imperfect source?!) Anyway, I'm assuming that it can only be our current atmosphere. By the way, the article mentions that the oceans and atmosphere would have started to form as the earth formed. It also mentions that as the planet cooled, it allowed for the formation of clouds and rains created the oceans.  So, for an imperfect, but much more in depth history, here's where I was reading.

I also found a bit of a timeline for the formation of life:

(Source)
Origin of earth
First life (unicellular)
Multicellular life
Eukaryotes
Arthropods
Fish
Land plants
Forests
Amphibians
Reptiles
Dinosaurs
Mammals
Birds
Flowering plants
Bees
Humans

Now, lets talk about the Bible. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep."

Did you know that immediately after the Big Bang, apparently no light could get through? I think that it's funny that the Bible says that "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep" and the modern website says, "The early soup [the vast array of fundamental particles from the big bang] would have been impossible to look at because no light would have carried inside it." According to the website, about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, light would have been able to shine through.

Back to the Bible. Then God said, "Let there be light." As I understand the current theory of the universe, there would have been some formless light before the stars etc began to take more shape, but if we narrow it down to our own solar system, the sun came before the earth. It is interesting to me that at the very beginning of the earth is when the moon formed and we had the sun and the moon from early on. Sure, if you wanted the first creation account and science to line up perfectly, I suppose you would have to say that the moon formed before the earth, but that's not what current scientific thinking supports. The point of this exercise is not to force all the pieces to fit exactly perfectly, but to show that both science and religion support the idea of things having a certain order and that they are not wholly inconsistent with one another (even if they are not an exact match, which would be weird, actually, if you think of the way that knowledge develops).

I like that the next thing is that the firmament of the heavens and the waters began to form, both above and below. As discussed, the oceans and atmosphere would have started to form at the same time as the earth began to take greater shape. Then the land began to form. Again, this is not inconsistent with what science tells us.

The Bible then goes on to talk about the plants forming on dry land, then the arrangement of the stars and the seasons. Then there is the life in the oceans and the creatures of the earth that are formed.

Now, if these (scientific theory and the Bible) were to match up strictly, the creation of the lights of the heavens would be before the creation of life. Life in the oceans before the creation of land vegetation, etc. The authors of the Bible did not have access to current scientific theory. Nor were they trying to explain the science of what happened. To artificially try to make them fit exactly would do violence to both science and religion. My point is that there are periods of formation according to science that give us a deeper understanding of how it all came to be. Science gives us an opportunity to study each of those "days" that the Bible speaks of. Theories of science should be developed by scientific thought and experimentation. Deeper understanding of religion should come from religious studies. However, everything in life is interdependent. So while our religion should not determine our understanding of scientific information, it is just as artificial to separate the two unnecessarily.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Science vs. God; Wait, I Don't Understand the Question

When I was in college a friend and fellow biology major said something to me along these lines: "I used to believe in God, but now I've studied too much science."

My eloquent response: "..."

That statement doesn't make sense. Sure, in a cultural context, I get where she was going with that, but my brain is sometimes too literal and filters away some of the context. What in the heck does the one have to do with the other? Why would science preclude God or God, science? I was a biology major as well, and for me science has always heightened my awareness of God. Don't get me wrong, science should not be studied for religious answers any more than religion should give us scientific answers. The two are not the same, but in my opinion, they also are not opposing.

Let's talk about the stupid creation/evolution discussion. That one annoys the snot out of me. This is often presented as an either/or proposition. EITHER you believe that God created the earth in a week, OR you believe that there is only science and evolution is how everything came into existence.

I believe that God created the earth through evolution. I know, sounds like a silly Pollyanna compromise, doesn't it? I promise that I have more to base this on than the desire to have it all. First off, I do believe that the Bible is God's word. I believe that the Bible speaks truth, but I also know that it was written by humans and that we have to be careful to understand the context in which those humans were writing. My understanding is that the humans from those earliest records would have been passing down verbal history in the form of stories before anything was written down. These stories would contain truth, but not necessarily be literal history as we understand it. Therefore, in the creation accounts, the important part to me in the first account is that God created the universe. It has always been explained to me that while the seven days of creation could have been literal 24 hour days, it could also simply mean that the narrator was trying to convey that there was a certain order and process to creation. The Bible itself does not require us to hang our belief system on either thing. They can't both be true, but whichever is true does not threaten the greater truth of the Bible, which is that God is the Creator and there was a certain order or design to His creation.

In college, when I was studying science, I could simply study science. What I mean is, I didn't have to try to bend science to fit some sort of religious philosophy, which does a disservice to the science and to the religion. Science, if nothing else, shows that there is an order to the universe. If there wasn't, it would be pointless to study science. If there was no order, there could be no equations, no expectations that conclusions could be drawn as a result of experiments and so forth. To me, it does not prove or disprove God, but there is a logical consistency that makes sense to me.

I think I've probably told you, that evolution didn't make as much sense to me at first, and that I may have fallen a little on the creationist side of things at one time. However, evolution within species was too obvious to ignore, and from there it's not a hard thing to grasp. Decisions about things like that should be based on science, and not the Bible. I was thinking about it one day and how if we evolved all the way back from apes, reptiles and on down the line to that original single celled organism in the dust... Then it hit me, where have I heard this before?

Genesis 2:7 "[T]hen the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

Just because we anthropomorphize God and imagine Him forming a clay figurine and then actually breathing into it and transforming it to a live creature, doesn't mean that's the way it happened! What I love is that science can help show us how much more amazing God is than our limited and childish imaginations could ever come up with! Perhaps, out of the dust of the ground, God formed life; that single celled life that gradually formed through evolution into human life. Both evolutionists and creationists have us coming from the dust of the ground; maybe if we could drop our beloved "isms" for a while, we could get to a place where God and science are not at war with one another, but properly understood can give us a greater understanding of reality as a whole.

I have more to say, but this post is long enough. There'll be another in a day or two.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Meh.

I read a post the other day that included these exact words:

I have to admit that I find much of Colorado rather meh.  It’s a dessert after all, lots of dry grass and sandy brown dirt. 

C'mon, now. You can't expect me to take a statement like that without comment! Actually, I can't fault the second sentence. The high plains in the east are arid and desert-y. I happen to like it, but can understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea. Plus, even though I like it okay (and am completely biased by the fact that I love this state), I don't spend much time in the east, I head for the west. Colorado, meh? I'm outraged, I tell you! Outraged! Here is what I have to say to that:

























Never mind, I am not outraged. I feel pity. Anyone who could say those words either does not appreciate the amazingness of creation when it is before them (definitely NOT Donna's problem, I assure you!) or they have never in their lives truly experienced Colorado. Never seen the mountains being awoken by the sunrise, first dusky pink, then blending to gold before the full light of day settles in. Has never sat next to the music of one of the many waterfalls cascading down the side of the mountain or pouring out of the rock itself, never experienced the peace of a mountain lake with peaks rising high above, surrounding and guarding it. These are the words of a person who has never stumbled into a carpet of wildflowers, either in a mountain meadow or high above treeline, surviving and thriving in a climate that should not allow anything to survive, let alone these tiny, delicate flowers. Has never gotten to meet the animals where they are and be reminded that we were certainly not the first here. Hasn't seen the aspen leaves shimmer, first with the new green of the spring and last with the gold of the fall. Has never gotten to experience the peaks go through the stages of a dusting of snow, to fully covered, to summer with the flowers blooming between the leftover snowfields. They have certainly never gotten to experience the range of history, including native history, mining, and dinosaurs. They have never been on a peak where they felt like they should be able to touch the clouds, or gotten the experience of standing on a peak above the clouds. Even in the desert areas, how can you not fall in love after seeing a cactus in bloom, or a wildflower poking up in the midst of rock and sandy soil?

Note: I don't actually feel either outrage or pity, I just like to give Donna a hard time. Although it is true that the one line did get me rather fired up (hence this post), but if you actually read her entire post it is about her getting to experience some of the wonders that are here, and more yet, the God Who made them. Donna, next time you're out here, let me know! I'll show you Colorado!
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Quest to Minimize

I think I mentioned this Spring that the basement flooded. (Yes, because you remember and care about that from so long ago, right?) Anyway, it did. There was some stuff down there that I wanted to keep, but that I didn't know what to do with, so into the basement it went. Most of it was just stuff, but there were a few photos and keepsakes that I had forgotten were down there. I didn't put really important stuff down there, as it is an unfinished basement, but there were some things that I probably wouldn't have left there if I had remembered that they were there.

All that to say that when the flooding happened, it was much worse than I thought it could get, and it drowned my stuff. I had to wade to get it out, and pretty much it all had to be trashed. There were keepsakes that I'd had since 2nd grade. There were some photo collages (even though most of the photos were digitally backed up). As I was dragging all the crap up the stairs, dripping and starting to mold, there was a pang at having to put it all in the trash. The surprising thing for a sentimental person like myself was that once it was there, I felt... lighter. More free.

I am now motivated. Get rid of all the stuff!  I am realizing that there is a lot of stuff that I am holding on to because I might want it someday, but in the meantime it is simply weighing me down. The vast majority of it, I will never remember was there (like most of the stuff in the basement). The stuff that I do think of someday that I may wish I had is all stuff that I can still live without quite easily. You know, like the things that sound convenient, but they're not because they're buried in all your other stuff and you can't find it? Yeah. That stuff. Good riddance.

I have gotten rid of a bunch of books- trite, banal stuff, not the classics. And not the trite stuff that I actually like. Stuff that was sort of okay when I got it, but that I outgrew years ago. DVD's that I never have time to watch anyway. Kitchen stuff that I never use, like the grilled sandwich maker that my mom got me one year... When you don't eat gluten and dairy, it's kind of a waste!  I enjoyed it back in the day before I knew how much that stuff affected me, but it's over now. I've been getting rid of some college and grad school books and notes that seemed important, but after a decade of not looking at most of them, I am coming to realize that they are probably not that important. Etc.

I love it. It's getting addictive! Some of my closets and drawers are so much fun to open now because they contain things that I actually use, and not things that get in my way when I'm looking for the things that I actually use. I got rid of an entire small bookshelf today, which was awesome, because there wasn't room for it in my house, anyway. And I got rid of enough stuff that I no longer needed it! My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, but I kind of don't want anything, because I have what I need, and I really don't want anything more right now. I want less. There is a long ways to go and a lot of stuff to sort through, but a little at a time it is happening.

So far, what I am learning is that a lot of us have a touch of hoarder in us. We keep stuff because we spent money on it, or someone else spent money on it and gave it to us, or because we might need or want it someday, or any number of other reasons. It often leads to needing other things, like containers and organizers for all of the stuff, sometimes even bigger houses to fit all the stuff. (Have you ever noticed how all real estate shows have the prospective home owners talking about the need for "plenty of storage"?) Also, there is the time and energy involved with keeping the stuff  clean and somewhat organized.

I question, in my case at least, if some of the necessity in holding onto the stuff is a bit of holding on to some sort of illusion of control in my life.  I am prepared for various circumstances because I have the stuff that I need, that sort of thing. I can see how a vow of poverty leads to more trust in God's control and provision, rather than our own. I can also see how, as this progresses, you could be more and more detached to the "things" in your life and more and more attuned to the people and experiences in your life. I know, it sounds a little overblown, but this is seriously what I've been experiencing so far!

Obviously, what is minimal to one person is excessive to another. What one person needs, another can't imagine needing. Storage space can be a very good and necessary thing. The needs of an entire family are a lot different than the needs of one and so forth. Still, I can tell you that I took a trunk load to a donation site today, and immediately came home and starting putting together the next load!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Crickets and Spam

That's either a really bad idea for menu planning, or it's all that's been going on at this blog for the last.... Well, who knows how long? Seriously, how is everyone? I miss you! I know, I know, I have a funny way of showing it.

I am continuing with the reading and the studying and the thinking, and the hopefully moving towards looking at some different ways to do my job. I'm tired of waiting for people to hurt so badly that they can't move when there's so much that can be done sooner. Want to know a funny story? I wasn't quite sure what direction to head next with my little endeavor, so it was one of my intentions for the St. Therese novena. No, I didn't get any flowers (I never do), but I did receive an email from a friend of mine on October 1st. She is very much in the business world, she has no idea that I'm working on this, though she has told me several times that I should, and she sent me a bulleted list of things that I should be working on. That's the way I like my answered prayers about what to do, clearly written in an email!

Other things... Honestly, unless you want to talk about how to fix tightness through the entire posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, etc), I'm kind of boring to talk to these days. I guess there are a few little things going on. For example, I went to a friend's yoga class the other day. Now, I think yoga as an exercise has some really good points, but I haven't really had to deal with the spiritual side of it. My friend was teaching it, and she has always avoided spirituality stuff in the past. However, she brought a little of it up this time. I'm really not at all comfortable with that. On the other hand, it led to us getting together for a hike, and since I hadn't really seen her in over a year, that was nice. Does anyone else have much experience with yoga?

Let's see, I got to do a great hike yesterday. Also got to catch up some with people I haven't seen in a long time, and we were hiking on the sunny side of the mountain, only to come to a ridge and realize that down below on the other side was socked in with clouds/fog. I will never get tired of hanging out above the clouds!  It doesn't happen often, but it's amazing.  I also got to climb with a couple of people today that I haven't seen in months. (Do we see a trend here? See, it's not just you that I'm neglecting, though these missed connections are not entirely my fault, either.) Anyway, I haven't been on the rock much, but I had just read a book about climbing that especially focused on some of the mental issues of climbing. I don't remember everything, but what was great was that I spent the day on the rock, rather than in my head.  What I mean is, I was able to focus on the move that I was doing, rather than whether I was climbing to some invisible standard in my head, or whether I would make it to the top, or how uncomfortable I felt. It was just about trying and testing things on the rock and it felt great!

Beyond that, the asthma is a pain in the butt, and it has been limiting some of my workouts. Other times, it has been letting me do more than I expected. It doesn't help that I happened to notice that the medication that I was taking can potentially increase anxiety and depression. I didn't think it was affecting me, but I was feeling pretty down about some things and decided that I didn't need anything helping that along. Wouldn't you know, a couple days later I was feeling a lot less depressed and the increase of nose snottiness wasn't too bad, so the meds are on hold for the moment. Ha! That's why there hasn't been much on the blog these days! How bored are you right now??

I am seriously thinking that the quality of this post leaves much to be desired, but I'm going to close my eyes and hit publish anyway. If not this, it may be months before another post may come along!