Monday, June 5, 2017

P4E.269 Dark Matter

The intersection of science and religion has always interested me. An exchange between CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and his guest Brian Greene, a week ago (May 28, 2017), really caught my attention.

Fareed Zakaria introduced Brian Greene as “one of today's foremost scientists, a master of super-string theory, the host of Nova shows and the co-founder of the World Science Festival, which kicks off this week in New York City.”

Here’s a part of the transcript of the show:
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ZAKARIA: …for example, I'll give you one that even I struggle with, dark matter.


ZAKARIA: I just don't understand it. It's one of these things where you're told, "OK, most of the universe is actually made up of dark matter, and we can't see it; we can't touch it; we can't feel it; we don't know, kind of, know what it does and we don't know why it exists."


ZAKARIA: So what am I to make of that?


GREENE: Well, that's actually a thrilling idea, if you can wrap your mind around it. So you mind spending 30 seconds on dark matter, just for the heck of it?


GREENE: So when we observe galaxies, we find that they're spinning around at such a rate that stars on the edge should be flung outward, sort of, like water droplets on a bicycle wheel that's spinning fast. The water gets flung out. But the stars aren't getting flung out. Something must be holding them in. We don't see anything that can do that. But we know gravity has the power to hold things together. So we imagine that maybe there's some matter out there that we don't see, dark matter -- that's why we don't see it; it doesn't give off light -- and that matter is exerting a gravitational pull, holding those stars together in these spinning galaxies.

And when we make that hypothesis, it explains observations so spectacularly well that we begin to gain confidence that maybe the stuff that we haven't yet seen and we haven't yet touched or smelled yet, maybe it's real. So we build big detectors and we try to capture one of the dark matter particles. We haven't succeed yet, but I think that we will.

So this is a beautiful example of how observations drive rational thinking to explain the facts and ultimately verify it through observation and experiment that can be replicated. That is what science is. And that is what can get your heart pounding, when you realize that the human intellect can figure out things about the universe that you wouldn't expect, based on casual observation.
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What caught my attention was that a foremost scientist found it a thrilling idea that “maybe the stuff that we haven't yet seen and we haven't yet touched or smelled yet, maybe it's real.” (italics and underline mine)

I rarely quote Scripture in response to situations such as these, but this seems to relate so concretely to the subject at hand, that I can’t help but point it out. Speaking of God, Paul says in Colossians 1:16-17

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible… all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (italics and underline mine)

It’s also very interesting to me that scientists have chosen to call this unseen phenomenon, “dark matter.” Another related phenomenon is called a “black hole.” On the other hand, God is light (I John 1:5). John 3:19 says, “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light…”

I believe that science and religion will ultimately be resolved. We now have in common that both scientists and Christians believe in things unseen. I find that for me, rather than dark matter and black holes, it’s easier and a much more comforting, enjoyable, stretch of the imagination to believe in the unseen personal, loving, Creator God.

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

P4E.268 Hypocrite

I had a conversation with my wife, Gwen, yesterday. At a certain point, Gwen posed the question, "If you believe that, then why do you act the way you do?"

It's a fair question. I don't think I'm alone in my hypocrisy (although maybe I am). Why do men (and here I AM purposely posing the question about men, but women are welcome to voice their opinion) think/believe one way and act another? I have my theories, but I wonder what you think?

How is it that we can set aside heartfelt beliefs, intellectually thought through ideas, values that we hold dear, and think act and speak things that are detrimental to our own well-being?

Why do we do things that we know are bad for us? How can we be so inconsistent? What causes us to be so hypocritical? Am I the only one?

Friday, February 17, 2017

P4E.267 Speak In

Given the times we are living in, I am sometimes tempted to speak out. But, the better part of me tells me that physical circumstances are put in my life to teach me spiritual lessons. The better part of me propels me to contemplative self-examination. I realize that I have little to no hope of influencing the wide world of politics or government policy. However, I have every hope of positively influencing my own spirit and the spirits of those around me. Instead of speaking out, I speak in.

In that spirit, I'm checking myself: Do I have an inflated view of my own importance? Am I reactionary? Am I careless with my words, thoughts and actions? Am I judgmental? Am I fast and loose with the truth to my own benefit? Can I be dismissive of others' perspectives?

As well as: Am I overly prone to fault-finding and criticism? Am I guilty of telling only the side of the story that fits my view of the world? Can I be cynical and sarcastic? Do I wield whatever power I have with malice? Can I be fake?

The truth is that I'm guilty of all of these things and it harms those whom I come in contact with, especially those closest to me. I really only have power over me and the atmosphere that I create around me. I can make it a bomb or a balm. I can be toxic or a tonic. It's my choice. The better part of me says, choose life, choose light, choose good humor, choose patience and kindness and goodness. Choose love and peace.

P4E.266 Discovering the Mind of a Woman

Some people laugh at the title of Ken Nair's book, Discovering the Mind of a Woman.
And that's part of the problem, isn't it?
The problem that we've been told that it's impossible; that women are from Venus and men are from Mars and that we men simply aren't able to crack the code of a woman's mind. The problem that it's been implied (as horrible as it sounds to read it aloud) that it wouldn't be worth the effort to discover what's in there.

And yet, the Scriptures admonish us husbands to live with our wives in an understanding way.
This is the paradigm shifting message of Ken's book and ministry: That we men have simply had no instruction in how to understand our own spirits or the spirits of those we come in contact with, especially our wives. That we have not had impressed on us the importance of our representation of Christ. That, even though it may not be our fault that we have not had such teaching, we are still responsible for producing the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (especially in our marriage).

I've devoured this book several times. Every page is underlined, noted, and highlighted. I've come to believe that Ken is a sort of prophet, crying in the wilderness of Christian marriages, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." His message is at the same time convicting and encouraging. It was, and continues to be, an epiphany to me. I have come to believe that the state of my marriage is a true reflection of the state of my relationship with Christ. When I am angry, impatient, and frustrated, God has used Ken to remind me to check myself. To check my spirit. To check my relationship to my Creator. And that's a good thing.

This year Gwen and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage. It is truly due to the influence of Ken and his book, Discovering the Mind of a Woman. If it were not for Ken, his ministry, and his book, I surely would have fallen. Thanks, for helping me get my life back, Ken. God bless you.

P.S. - An important follow-up to this post is that just because I can sing the praises of Ken Nair and his book does not mean that my marriage is in great shape. In fact, for some time, it has not been. I've been failing to represent Christ well to my wife. Part of the motivation for writing the review was to remind myself of who I'm supposed to be. One of the many ways that I can be offensive to Gwen (And here is one of the downfalls of reading the written word. You cannot tell my tone. I'm not being sarcastic or dismissive. Here, I mean to be sincere and heartfelt.) One of the many ways that I can be offensive to Gwen is that I can make other people think that I'm a nice guy, when I'm not. This might cause others to think she's crazy when she complains. Ken knows what I'm talking about. So, I might even be compounding that effect by writing this post-script. I apologize for that.

In any case, my own failings do not diminish the importance of Ken's book, or his ministry. They help us husbands by setting a benchmark by which we can monitor our pursuit of Christlikeness.  I'm rededicating my efforts to be the man God wants me to be because of Ken Nair, his book and his ministry. Thanks, Ken.

P.P.S. - You might think, man, that's TMI. The reason I've posted this is to give some transparency and permission to my friends to call me on my BS, when I'm shoveling it out. There, you have it.