Thursday, September 20, 2007

Biochemistry. A little too much to digest?

I'm interested in the idea of evolution.  I've realized recently that if I claim to be a christian, and there are overwhelming arguments that claim to not only pose slight challenges to my faith, but claim to overthrow them, I should take time to consider the opposing arguments.  My goal is not to defend what I believe at all costs, but on some foundational level, believe that which is most defendable.  I know that this view is already getting some adverse reactions, but let me expand for only a moment.  My goal is to seek truth.  Assuming that you believe in some sort of absolute truth, then this search will lead you to truth and the truth will be the most defendable.  This does NOT mean that it will be the easiest, or the nicest.  (The Holocaust is not nice, but its is a historical truth).  
Today I began reading Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe.  I have decided to take this book slowly, picking it up only when I'm ready to be mentally engaged and overwhelmed.  In the very first chapter of the first section (designed to wet the appetite) Behe refers to the biochemistry of vision: 

He concludes the first chapter by writing: 
"Yet for the Darwinian theory of evolution to be true, it has to account for the molecular structure of life. It is the purpose of this book to show that it does not."

While I will not in any way attempt to blog about this book in detail, I will from time to time point out interesting points that Behe makes.  For those of you who are more familiar with the topic, or would like additional information on a particular point I may address or skip, please feel free to comment and I will attempt to respond accordingly.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Grand Weaver

What a week it's been... I went through forgetting about my own being emotionally remembering my getting migraines.

This morning I followed my routine... I showered, read a little and noodled on my guitar...then I headed off to work. I felt for some odd reason that I didn't want to follow the normal route (101 E to 56th St) instead i opted to drive down Union Hills all the way to Tatum blvd. I sang along to worship songs...though I didn't really feel like it. I attempted to remember the things that I was grateful for... one of them was simply the fact that there was another way to get to the store...

I've been continuing my reading of The Grand Weaver, by Ravi Zacharias. I hit a section about finding our "Calling" according to God. Ravi has some very interesting ideas... I love when you're reading a book and an idea is provocative enough to make you hit the brakes...

A calling is simply God's shaping of your burden and beckoning you to your service to him in the place and pursuit of his choosing...A call may not necessarily feel attractive to you, but it will tug on your soul in an inescapable way, no matter how high the cost of following it may be.

Ravi actually shares that he has held two lifelong dreams. One was to open a restaurant of his own, the other- to be a professional cricket player. - that makes everybody laugh for some reason? Apparently both dreams haunt him from time to time to this very day. But Ravi knew he was called to evangelize, particularly in hostile environments.

Ravi actually shares that he has held two lifelong dreams. One was to open a restaurant of his own, the other- to be a professional cricket player. - that makes everybody laugh for some reason? Apparently both dreams haunt him from time to time to this very day. But Ravi knew he was called to evangelize, particularly in hostile environments.

How fortunate are we that people like Ravi who have added tremendously to the furthering of the gospel had come to submit their lives to fulfilling not simply what they desired, but what God had in mind for them... I have to admit I do at times feel like I have a dream and I just want God to back me up... when in actuality I should simply find what God's dream for my life is... and follow Him.

God trained Moses in a palace to use him in a desert. He trained Joseph in a desert to use him in a palace. Some come through winding paths, some through the nicely paved road of priviledged birth or influential friends. Others come through the visitation of circumstances with wanderings and sudden signposts. Finding one's calling is one of the greatest challenges in life, especially when one has gifts that fan out in many directions.

So I have an aptitude in music, to take it further I love doing brings me tremendous satisfaction to write songs and perform them... It makes me feel more like me... like i'm doing what i was designed to do. I also know I have an academic mind, and a heart for contributing to the lives of others... and I feel evangelism is the most important work any person could do...whether on a small or larger scale. I have always imagined doing both, in the sense that I would always leave it open to minister and share with others while in the music industry... but I can't help but think about how Ravi could have felt the same way about opening a restaurant. He would likely have been a great person to his clients and employees and shared the gospel within his sphere of influence. But how different would the WORLD and millions of lives be without RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries)?

"I wanna be a rock n' roll singer,
I wanna be a rock n' roll star..."

(I just couldn't resist quoting AC/DC in the middle of all this serious pontification.)

The real challenge is to ponder how we come to terms with God's sovereign working and how we respond to his plan and calling. This is where our hopes and dreams often become confused with our capacities and our calling...

During my first semester of college I recall taking a UNI 100 course. We had a bohemian-type professor who consistently stressed the importance of "finding ourselves." One day she led us in an exercise where we closed our eyes and sat silently for a while. She talked us through a scenario, fast forwarding time by 10 years and then suggested a number of questions like, "Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with..etc..." To this day I can hear her calming voice...

I imagined myself waking up next to someone, presumably my wife, the bed was purely white, white sheets, comforters and pillows held together by a dark vintage metal frame. I brewed a pot of coffee for two and then walked over to the balcony of our 2nd story condominium and opening the windows that swung inwardly, I took notice of a beautifully overcast monday morning. I was in San Fransisco the fog common in the early hours were telling enough.

After breakfast and a short conversation I would head down the street through enormous slopes which the bay area is known for. The air was slightly humid and cool and cars were lined up for miles to usher in a new work week. Eventually I would land at an unmarked building along the busiest street in town... I was a musician heading into another day at the recording studio to finish out our latest project...I was tired and slightly stressed, but excited to see what the day would bring... This was the life I had imagined.

My life might not look like this at all...and I guess i'm mostly ok with it. If i'm truly honest a part of me is resistant to letting it all go. Truth be told, life would not be paradise if I had every bit of that dream... life is life.

It brings with it trouble, pain, and we have to barrel through it most of our days. We all hold elusive dreams, idealisms... but reality often suprises us...and we know that even the greatest of fantasies will ultimately disappoint us or they won't last. But maybe this is also a liberating thought. To hope for so much more than doing great things in this life...and enjoying it. The truth is, you might win a pulitzer, be the next Claude Monet, make your mark on wallstreet or write the next best selling album or book... and you might be remembered for for years to come, save a place in hisotry for yourself, have monuments or statues in your honor...but you won't be here to enjoy any of that...

at the end of this will only matter who and how many people you took with you to eternity... so what should this look like in my own life? More questions...

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Declaration of Doubt

Recently I stumbled upon something that I found quite interesting given that I have recently been enjoying several of Shakespeare’s works (one of his finest I believe to be "Twelfth Night") To me he is a staple of what greatness a simple man can achieve, his writing represents what is internationally regarded to be some of the best plays, sonnets, and dialogues ever written. He is a legend, and has had his life and writings meticulously analyzed and recorded in countless biographies. I, myself, had the chance to attend a four-hour performance of King Lear by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford Upon-Avon several years back. He is and will remain one of the most esteemed writers and playwrights of all time.

Which is why I was so surprised to learn that there is a theory with quite a large and educated following that believes that Shakespeare was not the one who wrote the majority of the material attributed to him. I knew that this theory existed and had for some time, but until now I had no idea what the details of this theory consisted of. This theory boasts believers such as Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Sigmund Freud, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, R.W. Emerson, and others. Well anyway, it turns out that their theory has recently been put onto paper by several educated Brits, many of whom have called upon other intellectuals and scholars to sign on to what they call a "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt." Thought you all might find it interesting. Check it out here:

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

"I want to know God's thoughts... the rest are details." - Einstein

As I sit at here at my desk, I can't help but feel a somberness covering me. I don't know if it's simply the events of today or the pinpoint prick of my latest read. It's interesting to think that generally the biggest problem with "the church" (or christians in general) today is their lack of knowledge of the position of God.

...and the most portentous face about any man is not what he at a given time amy say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
As I was doing a bit of reading tonight, I couldn't help but recall the countless number of times I have heard friends and strangers say something like "I just don't believe God could do that." Generally, this is in reference to the concept of hell, some idea of absolute morality or the idea that bad things just happen.
I want to start by asking myself how I would describe God. I mean, if someone came up to me tonight and said, "Hey Tim, I'd like to know God, tell me about him." What would I say? How would I respond? Ask me that a week ago and would have said something like, "Well He's God and by definition that would mean omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Of course the bible also says 'God is love' so that's important to keep in mind too." Then I wonder if I would make an analogy, maybe tell a story about a father and child or try to compare someone I knew, maybe Mother Theresa, or someone else, to give the inquirer some way to link the concept of God to a tangible idea. And this becomes the point, am I helping the person to commit idolatry? Hear me out for a second before you get all "damn, Tim's crazy... kid must have lost his mind. Must be something in the water" on me. Let me see if I can clarify.
I have a couple of friends that refer to God as "pal," they begin their prayers with "what up God, how're things?" And initially, I have to say that felt pretty uncomfortable about it, but I wrote it off to being raised in a religious household, maybe this "super-reverence" is really just a form of religious shackle? Then I heard Ravi Zacharias say once that we as a people, Christians in general and especially westerners, have a very loose concept of what it means to show reverence. He goes on to say that there is a way to show intimacy and yet be reverent of God and the position He holds. (He tells of the concept of "daddy, sir"). Tozer hits hard on this subject and goes so far as to say,
Without a doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God.
If this is really the case, which I am still considering, I can almost start to see why using "the Lords name in vain" is such a big deal. I mean think of the last time you heard someone yell "god-damn" or "oh my god!" If God is the "weightiest word" then what are we saying about a) the current situation in front of us, that we would use such an expletive or b) about the weight of God? I don't know the exact implications for my life, but this is definitely something to at least chew on...
On a side note, I'm considering taking a year off to study theology and apologetics... and while I haven't totally decided if I'm going to pursue this course of action, there is a sentence that brings the need to the forefront of my mind. Tozer says that the greatest problem in all of heaven and earth is the "problem of God:"
That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral being must do about Him.
This is interesting to me because I recall a couple of conversations I had with newly acquired friends. When I was asked about my interest in church and God, part of my response entailed, "Well I think for me personally, I believe that a God exists, and so it makes sense that I should know everything about Him as it seems there would be major implications to what He is like..."

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I am reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and while it is one of my favorite books, this read through is throwing me for a loop. Maybe it's only that I am a little bit older and see the world a little differently.

If you haven't the read the book before you should, and if you have read the book before you should read it again. It is about Heaven and Hell or really, reality. I've been stuck re-reading the same chapter for a couple of days now. It is a part where a ghost has come through purgatory to a place where he meets a Spirit and the Spirit is trying to convince the ghost that he should continue on to Heaven with him and that his old way of thinking was wrong but now he has a chance to put his past thoughts behind him. The Spirit points out to the man that even though in his later years he became a bishop that he never knew truth. That's such a scary thought. The Spirit tells the man that when they were younger they got caught up in modern day thought and said the things that they knew people would give applause for. He says, "When, in our whole lives, did we honestly face, in solitude, the one question on which all turned: whether after all the Supernatural might not occur? When did we put up one moment's real resistance to the loss of our faith?" He then tells the ghost that they were, "afraid (above all) of real spiritual fears and hopes."

The perception Lewis gives on reality is amazing and makes you wonder if you are only a mere shadow. The character in the book gets to this brilliant place with the ghost and the spirit and realizes that he too is a ghost. He says, "I also was a phantom. Who will give me the words to express the terror of that discovery?" That is such a terrifying thought. Maybe we're all a lot more fake and transparent than we think, at least we know we are transparent to God but how much do we really believe that?

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

In the beginning...

So I'm readying a couple of books right now, each for its own reason. Atlas Shrugged was recommended by a good friend and it's probably the first book I've read for pleasure in.. well since I can remember. It's quite a large book, just over a thousand pages and I'm about a third of the way through. It's one of the most interesting fiction books I've ever read. While it was written to show the clash between communism / socialism and capitalism (of course from the authors point, capitalism is what allows the atlas' of the world to thrive) While I agree with the political and economical implications of removing or shackling the great work horses of our time, but I don't know how I feel about the way the book works with emotions or the point Rand is trying to convey. (granted I'm only a third through the book).

I also picked up A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy. I'm going to go out on a limb and call it an amazing book. I'm going out on a limb because I haven't been able to get past the opening prayer of the first chapter! I seem to be getting stuck on:
...therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou are, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee...
It's pretty substantial to me that those who claim to be Christians, myself included, often go around thanking God and giving him what we would consider the praise that He's due, and really the praise we offer, the love we profess are unworthy of him. Tozer mentions in the preface that it's because we really don't take the time to truly know God. He says...

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils... With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of divine Presence... Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate...the words "Be still, and know that I am God," [the words] mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper.

So this is where I'm at right now...

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