lyrics to Bella Thorne's TTYLXOX begin with "..be my [best friend forever] 'cause [I don't know] what's coming next." Great music, but the words are profound. They are right in line with what Timothy and Kathy Keller say in The Meaning of Marriage, page 94. In a section titled "The Freedom of Promising" they credit Lewis Smedes as saying, "No German Shepherd ever promised to be there with me. No home computer ever promised to be a loyal help.. Only a person can make a promise. And when he does, he is most free." Yes, he is saying that by making a promise you become free, because you are no longer at the mercy of your environment. You have decided. Likewise, the person to whom you make a promise becomes free, because they know one place in their environment on which they may count, even when they don't know what's coming next everywhere else. The truth is the opposite of what we expect: A marriage commitment is the freedom both partners really seek.
I enjoy Ted Talks, and I love history and science, so a Ted Talk entitled, “The History of Our World in 18 Minutes,” caught my attention. Yet this particular talk held my attention, because David Christian begins with an excellent example for why what he is about to propose is “hard to believe,” and then gives absolutely no reason to believe what he then asks his audience to believe. I had to watch the first 3 minutes several times, thinking I was missing something. I would call it slight-of-hand, or even deceptive; except I honestly don’t think Christian even knows what he did.
He first shows a reversed video of an egg being unscrambled (0-1:37 minutes), all the while admitting how order from disorder completely goes against our understanding of the universe. He then sweeps the eggs and the second law of thermodynamics under the rug by simply saying, “but here we are!” In essence his argument is, “Don’t let it bother you that all logic and testable science work to the contrary, randomness-to-complexity must be true.”
His “history” then begins (at 4:23) with nothing exploding into something, “.and we have crossed our first threshold.” Threshold of what? Credibility. And he never looks back. He refers to pockets in the universe where “Goldilocks” conditions must have existed, but never giving a reason for the gravity, or heat, or diversity, or anything else necessary to germinate the desired change for the better. If you don’t just accept it, you are left behind in his story; and after all: Who wants to appear that they don’t understand? Only a fool, or one who really seeks the truth.
I just posted this 11-minute apologetic on YouTube. In it I attempt to use observations about the universe and the principles of logic and physics to infer the existence of a God who knows we are here. If you have any comments (encouraging or constructive), they would be appreciated.
This is a really fun video. As I watched listened to the audience response I was drawn into McFerrin’s teaching technique. He gave them the base line, got them into it, tricked them, then reestablished the baseline and continued adding and getting notes beyond what he had demonstrated for the audience. They totally got it and sang the unrehearsed tune together. This is not like whales singing; this is not like bird or frog mating calls. This is far beyond the capacity of any other species—to be given a concept and then carry it beyond recall or DNA programming into a coordinated, intentional product never before experienced by those who carried it out. Humans are unique, and their unique abilities go far beyond anything that can be explained by survival of the fittest.
I just uploaded four videos to You Tube. They are actually one presentation that I have made in person to audiences all over the world–in public and private schools, from high school students to graduate students and adults in many settings. It points out how many of our views we have taken on unknowingly, and how sometimes we hold contradictory ideas, because we have never really thought about what we have bought into.
The series is entitled “How Do You Know What You Know, and Who Told You So?: The cultural basis of religion and knowledge.”
Part 1: Culture defined
Part 2: The layers of culture
Part 3: World views
Part 4: World view implications
Please check them out. I would appreciate your comments, either here or on You Tube.
Yesterday I received a request for a link on LinkedIn that read as follows:
“You were one of my professors at Texas A&M. This would be back around 1992. Time flies by very quickly. I appreciated your values and integrity. I did enjoy your class. You probably do not remember as you have had many students over time. Hope life is treating you well.”
No, I don’t remember him, but I am impressed that he remembered me during a time when I was myself a PhD student, teaching three times the course load allowed for faculty by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). That was a very tough time in my life. I had no idea I was leaving a good impression on anyone, especially one that would surface 20 years later.
I post this just to say, you never know when someone else is taking note; and you may leave a lasting impression, even a positive one, when times are toughest for you.
This is illustrative of what Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his 1978 address at Harvard”, referred to as “legalistic life.” He saw in America at that time that “the limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws.” If it’s not against the law, then it must be my right.
It reminds me of young children who check to see if their parents are looking before they cross the street. They are not mature enough to know that they should check the streets for what is safe, not the parents for what is allowed. The person who passed me only demonstrated concern for the law, not the kids for whom the law was written.
Solzhenitsyn observed that of us over 30 years ago. God help us if we have become as a nation so immature that our only conscience is the law.
The Obama response to the discovery of Qur’an burning is yet another example of how we fail to recognize the true role of religion in our world views. The response of an apology was a Christian response, that is, whether he claims it or not, it came out of Obama’s Christian world view. Because he fails to recognize the influence of religious world view even on his own thinking, he thinks he was just doing “the right thing” to satisfy anyone. The result is increased violence and Americans dead. How was this followed up? More American statesmen apologizing even more profusely. I saw a talk show tonight on which a person defended both responses as “the right thing to do,” even if it is misunderstood by the Muslims we hope to appease.
This is inconsistent thinking, and comes purely from ignorance of world views—one’s own and that of others. The political thing to do is what works, and this is not working. If one seeks to do “the right thing,” then one must acknowledge a basis for right and wrong, which must be religious, which is anathema to this president and many talking heads. (Forgive me for using a religious word to describe them.) They don’t realize that they think an apology will calm their enemies, because Christianity is built on forgiveness—you repent and are saved. Islam is not, nor is any other world religion. What was witnessed was interpreted as groveling, which is to say vulnerability and opportunity for attack.
The reason the Qur’ans were collected and burned, along with other books in the prison library, was because we had freely made religious texts available to Muslim prisoners. The prisoners took advantage of this courtesy by writing in the margins of these books to pass messages to each other and stir up trouble among prisoners. Once that was figured out, the books were collected and destroyed. What a missed opportunity!
Doesn’t anyone in the current administration know that writing in a Holy Book, be it Bible or Qur’an, is desecration in the Muslim mind? These prisoners were desecrating the holy writings of Allah through his servant Mohammed! A little research should have prepared the responsible Americans to say, “We stopped the desecration! Now, Muslim world, what should we do with the damaged Holy Books?”
Instead they are scratching their heads and wondering why an apology isn’t working. Just as science is not driven by logical, non-religious fact, neither is politics. We will continue to burn communication bridges if we do not acknowledge that our belief, or non-belief, in God underlies all our thinking and behavior, as well as that of others.
I usually avoid politically hot topics in this blog, but this one is so right-on-target with culture and science issues. “Obama Administration Defends Contraception Rule Amid Mounting Criticism,” Huffington Post article Feb 8, is Exhibit A, because it so misrepresents the real issue, thus illustrating the point. The Obama administration doesn’t get it either.
“White House spokesman Jay Carney also sought to diffuse criticism from church leaders, telling reporters later on Tuesday the administration would work with religious organizations ‘to see if the implementation of the policy can be done in a way that allays some of those concerns.’
So far in the article, several key points can be made about missing the point:
1. What the Administration and the Huffington Post call “Contraception,” the Catholic Church sees as contradiction to God’s intent within marriage and license outside of marriage.
2. When the Administration’s spokesman says, “the administration would work with.. to see if the implementation.. can be done,” it implies there is no compromise on the ruling,
3. And that the Catholic position is only a “concern,” not a mandate from God.
The White House thinks it can discuss with the Catholic Church how the Catholic Church can compromise its policy. It’s not a policy! What the White House doesn’t understand is that some people actually believe in God so much that it affects their behavior.
This is the cultural point: Our behavior is the result of what we believe, not what we say we believe. People can say they believe in God and be totally OK with contradicting what they say is God’s Word when they think the two realms are separate. Unlike Jefferson’s intent, that’s what some people mean when they use the phrase “separation of Church and State.” They mean that God has no practical effect on this world or our behavior in it.
Everyone does not agree. To some people God is real. He really matters. He is purpose, meaning, and direction in life. The current White House administration doesn’t believe that. That is why they are surprised at the Catholic outcry, and even if the Administration backs off, it hasn’t changed its worldview. It will happen again.
And if those who are OK with contraception think this isn’t their battle, what happens when the issue is abortion being required in Baptist hospitals for “female health?” What happens when corporations are required to counsel employees to get over their guilt when they actually want to escape from a homosexual life style?
If freedom of religion is only tolerated when it doesn’t affect behavior, then there is no freedom of religion.
Two days ago one of my online students emailed me that the Excel software that I make available to them would not open properly. I checked, and yes, the most recent version posted for them had somehow been corrupted. It opened in a way that could not be viewed full-screen, and would not accept data entries. I don’t know how this happened, but I quickly replaced it with a slightly older backup version.
I originally designed this particular software as a case study for my students about 12 years ago, and I have improved it almost every term since then. Students seem to continually find new ways to do it wrong, so I continually add failsafe responses to get them back on track. It has become quite complex, and very user friendly, but always by my design. Over those 12 years copies have become corrupted many times, but I am yet to have a corruption be an advantage to my students. As far as I can tell, no corruption has ever increased the software’s capacity to do anything, useful or not. They have only reduced capacities. I do find however, that the more complex I develop my software to be, the more easily it can be corrupted. There is more to corrupt, and less chance of it functioning after the corruption. Complexity increases vulnerability, and corruption shuts down function.
And yet the complexity of anything I program, or anybody else programs, for that matter, is so simple compared with the programming we find in DNA. When I think about it, it is incredible that any DNA programming became more complex or useful without design, or that corruption in DNA could do anything except make it less functional. The only way a person could possibly think that chance evolution has improved DNA after experiencing computer programming is for indoctrination to have shut down thinking.