Monday, March 30, 2009

Snow Ball Theory

No, this has nothing to do with the 8" of horrendous white slush that was dumped on us over the weekend. The Snow Ball Theory is a story- a story about the planet Earth, as told by it's rocks and a bunch of men with way too much free time and creative imaginations.

Last night my wife and I sat down to unwind while watching some TV. I would have preferred something funny, but we landed on the Science channel and some show called 'Let It Snow'. This episode was about the establishment, and acceptance of, The Snow Ball Theory.

Once upon a time, the fair, green Earth was smitten by a stranger from space. This stranger was a massive asteroid which raised a cloud of dust into the air so high, and so thick that it shuddered out the warming light of the sun for ages. The Earth grew cold, while swaddled in the dark blanket. So cold, in fact, it reached a magical tipping point where so much of the Earth's surface was encrusted in glittering white, that it reflected back into space too much of the sun's warming rays to be able to warm itself up again. So the earth grew colder still, until it was completely locked up in a ball of ice.

But as time pressed on, the Earth found within itself the means to throw off this frozen straight-jacket. Pockets of fiery fury erupted over the face of the earth, pushing through the aquatic glass and spewing tons upon tons of CO2 into the then cloudless air. After ten thousand years of these eruptions, and no outlet for the CO2, this chemical swaddled in the sun's warmth and allowed some ice to begin melting. This, in turn, allowed water vapors into the air so that new clouds could form. This allowed yet more sunlight to be absorbed and more clouds to form until, at last, rains fell upon the face of the Earth yet again!

These rains- initially acid rains- perpetuated the thawing and opened up the door for new life to evolve until our present day. Once again the Earth was garbed in emerald and azure and decided it would be best if she didn't date any more strangers from deep in space. And they lived happily ever after.

I'm so glad we have modern science to liberate us from believing foolish things such as: that at one time the earth was a giant greenhouse; that the earth was once covered with water; or that at one time the earth received no rain; or that at one time, the earth was subjected to instantaneous, cataclysmic shifts in the environment. Thanks to this painstaking research, we now know that the earth was at one time a giant greenhouse, was then covered with glaciers (made from water), didn’t receive any rain for a long period of time and suddenly, due to climatic changes, began to receive rain. Thank you, modern science, for clearing all that up!

This show made no mention of the great flood and so was not a critique. It was hilarious to us, however, how much of what they were saying lines up with the Genesis account of the antediluvian world and they seemingly had no knowledge of it. Also, their theories- based up on other theories- were yet fraught with assumption! And the entire show framed this theory as something that people were trying to prove, with “religious zeal”. The show frequently referred to “the believers” and once even referred to one of them as a “disciple”. Outstanding! Absolutely outstanding….

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Truth and Error

Lately I have been reading The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine and ran across this tidbit:

“Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.”

A couple of months ago, my beloved purchased a great book for the whole family to go through together called The Fallacy Detective. It was written by a couple of homeschool graduates and is focused on teaching children, from a Christian worldview, how to detect logical fallacies. It is really a book of short lessons, with lots of examples and age appropriate exercises. We have been going through it slowly, doing just a couple of lessons per week, and really trying to apply it. Neither my wife nor myself had ever received formal instruction in logic so this has been educational for us as well. On a day to day basis, we are seeing more and more fallacies enumerated in news articles, speeches, commercials and every day conversation.

I present the quote above, regarding ignorance, because if there is a root cause to our current failures as a free nation, it is because people have cast off thought for feeling, reason for affections and truth for entertainment. This ignorance is the root cause of our rejection of God and toleration of those who push us further away from Him. This blot of darkness that pervades the public mind is the slave trader who will soon sell us to a new master. The best thing that free people can do, right now, is learn how to think and to educate others in the same.

One last thing, to preempt the friendly wounds of criticism that would say "Our mission is to preach the Gospel alone, and none other!", learning how to think orderly thoughts and instructing others in the same is no contradiction, or distraction, from preaching the Gospel of Christ. God is willing to reason with man, and it declared by Scripture that the Greeks seek after wisdom. While the foolishness of the Cross will never be reconciled to human wisdom, it is necessary for the Christian to employ Reason as a colaborer in our great commission, as Paul did at Mar's Hill. But how can a Christian do this if Reason is no friend of his? And how can it be received if the hearer has no capacity to understand truth? It would be like building a bridge where no room is found for footing on either end: possible only by suspending the entire span from the sky itself. Christian brothers, it is every bit in the best interest of filling our mission to both exercise ourselves and instruct others in the mode of proper thought.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How Christianity Changed The World

Finally, I finished this book. Here is my review.

This book is excellent: a must read for anyone interested in history, sociology or apologetics. It can be a foundation for any Christian seeking to understand "the big picture" and a guide for anyone wanting to unlock cultural secrets of the West to more effectively preach the gospel. The author consistently and directly tackles the question, "How has Christianity changed the world?"

The author establishes a benchmark for change in each chapter by contrasting early Christian views and practices with that of the surrounding world, chiefly the Greco-Roman system but also the Judaic and Semitic systems of the Middle East and, less often, the Far East systems. He then traces how Christ's followers impacted their world from a discipleship perspective and attempts to hit the highlights of change as they unfold in history to the modern age.

The first few chapters are by far the most impactful. The Christian ideas regarding respect for human life and women, health care and abolition were the most significant and often shocking to me. The high ideals held by and sacrifices made by Christians were in stark contrast to the very base and ignoble ideas of the Greco-Roman system- the same type of system we as a society are fast striving to rebuild. The middle of the book tackles important but less impactful ideas, specifically regarding government, economics and science. The end of the book was somewhat tedious, addressing architecture, music, literature, holidays and language; but he rigorously followed the same pattern and showed how much of our modern world still echoes the teaching of Christ.

The author is Lutheran and this slant definitely shows, but it never put me off. He equally embraces all mainstream Christian denominations without apparent partiality and constantly goes back to the Scriptures, to the teachings of Jesus and the acts of the early church. He favorably portrayed some people (such as Origen) and writings (Didache, Shepherd of Hermes) which I have been taught were the "bad guys" in some way or another, or were evil writings. This has caused me to question to some extent this clear-cut assumption. I may pursue further reading on some of these but it is really of little interest to me.