Monday, February 23, 2009


So, I was looking in Irenaeus (an early Church Father) for the answer to my questions about creation, evolution, and everything. Instead, I find that he probably started the "Left Behind" series.
Check this out:
For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded.
And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.” This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.

How crazy is that! Ol' LaHaye wasn't so original now was he?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Darwin!

You may not realize it, but this is a very historically important year for the science of biology. Today (Feb 12th) is Charles Darwin’s birthday. He was born in 1809, and in November of 1859 he published the famous (and infamous) Origin of Species, making this year a tidy double anniversary. With all the rising excitement surrounding these celebrations we can expect the usual claims and counterclaims about the great scientist. On one hand, expect to see the young earth creationist faction denouncing Darwin as demonically inspired (Henry Morris has said “Satan himself is the originator of the concept of evolution”). On the other hand, there is no doubt that Darwin’s contemporary ‘high priests’ will want to use Darwin as the figurehead for the advancement of materialistic atheism — touting him as the saviour who “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

The reality is that Darwin would not have supported either program. He was not trying to overthrow Christianity in favour of atheism because in fact, Darwin was never an atheist. In a letter he wrote three years before his death, Darwin stated “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” Equally in his Autobiography Darwin states that in regards to his religious belief he “deserve[s] to be called a Theist” due to his recognition of intelligence in the architecture of the universe. On the other hand, the myth of his deathbed recantation is also false, as has been confirmed by Darwin’s son Francis.
Darwin was religiously a moderate man. Yet as recently as this summer, big time multimedia has been attacking him once again, associating his views with atheism, racism and support of eugenics. In a kind of “strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter” logic, Ben Stein’s movie Expelled quotes the following from Darwin:
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick, thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

What Expelled misses (and I can only think that it was intentionally done) is the very next paragraph where Darwin explicitly states that he does not support the idea of eugenics. In reference to humans he says:
Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.

Darwin was a good man, and a great scientist. Not only did he not support eugenics, he opposed racism, was staunchly against slavery, and would have been appalled at “social Darwinism”. He was a prototypical Victorian gentleman, whose letters and books were filled with equal measures of humour and wit. But why take my word for it? Why not take a moment to get to know the man yourself? As the world celebrates his 200th birthday, crack open Origin of Species or read some of his letters, and look past the ugly rhetoric to discover the real Charles Darwin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Food for thought.

I went to my professor's house last night. To cook steak. Apparently the English have no idea what to do with it. I realized that must be the case when I suggested we use the BBQ and I got a blank stare and a "Whatever for?" in response.

After that, I decided to take full control of that part of the meal. I even brought my own (cast iron) frying pan. I also made pasta and brought all my own materials, just in case. I asked the prof. to take care of the vegetables. When I got there, she had five different dishes on the go, and salad. When we finished cooking and sat down to the meal, her kids were exclaiming "We haven't had a meal like this since Christmas!"

There was an abundance of food, laughter, and stories. My special steak marinade was a happy success, and even the daughter who had had a tooth out earlier in the morning bravely ate a good chunk of it. I think my favorite part of the meal was when the daughters asked their mandatory "guest questions". One was "Would you rather go to school/work naked, or be squished by an elephant?" It took me about 2 seconds to decide on the elephant.

The warmth and humor of the meal followed by an ultra-intense game of Dutch-Blitz was wonderful. It made me miss home. Family is such a great thing, and despite all the craziness that normally surrounds them, I wouldn't give mine up for anything. The memories of laughing, eating, teasing, and (invariably with my family) talking about fecal matter will always remain precious.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It has been too long!

Hello dear reader,

I am sorry I have not posted in a long time. I will try to do better in the future. I have been coping with lots lately:

a full grad school course load
publishing a paper
writing a thesis proposal
applications to Ph.D. programs
getting in shape
teaching a course at my church on Genesis

It is this last one I'd like to write about. I just finished my second class with these dear people. They are so brave and smart I am ashamed to be teaching the class! They are understanding in moments what it took me months to get. And they are learning this incredibly challenging material with grace and courage. My course undermines great deals of their presuppositions about Scripture, and is really shaking them, and they are responding so well. Today we looked at the Ancient Near Eastern mythologies and compared them to Genesis. It was criminal how much I threw at them, and they took it in stride. I am so proud of them!
I've never realized this before, but I think teaching might be more for the teacher than for the student.

Well, I'm going to go to bed, with the cat purring beside me, the stars twinkling over the mountains outside, and the sound of opera drifting up the stairs outside my room!

Good night!