Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Illusion of God




The eternal struggle has always been belief in God.

Is there a God, or isn’t there? Are we all here by happenstance? Believers call non-believers doomed and short-sighted, and non-believers call believers simpletons unable to see that science rules.

During the existence of this blog, I have tried to show that science complements faith and vice versa. I’ve tried to illuminate the beauty that each represent and influence the other. The truth is that science and faith should exist together in harmony. 

And then I found COLOR

Recently I watched a National Geographic show called Brain Games with my kids. It was the very first episode and it described color as an illusion. Here’s what the narrator, Jason Silva, had to say,

Uh…

In fact, further on Mr. Silva says that when you see a particular color, that object is EVERY OTHER color besides that one. 

What? Every other color? So what is color?

The website, Archimedes Laboratory says the following:

“Color is energy…in fact it is an electromagnetic phenomenon, which depends on the way that light is reflected on the objects. Every object absorbs a part of the light which hits it and deflects the rest towards our eyes: this reflected light is interpreted by our brain as a particular color."

Makes you want to say, “If color isn’t real, then what is?”  

 But that sentence sounds much like, “If God isn’t real, then what is?

Back to the Brain Games show and host Jason Silva who goes on to say that, “We will never know the world directly. All we can know is the representation of rendering, a cosmic dance between our brain and those signals coming in…and our brain is throwing in expectations, intentions, preconceptions and stereotypes…”

That is a loaded couple of sentences. But the take away for me is the following:


If your eyes betray you, why would you rely on your eyes to tell you if there is a God? 

I believe God is using science to tell us that we shouldn’t just believe what we see. We need to use the whole package…our mind, body and soul to understand what is beyond. It doesn’t have to be visceral to be real. 

When you make decisions do you listen to your eyes only? No. You base your decisions on your experience, your senses and something else. Your conscience. 

So it is with God. He wants you to use your whole being to see Him. Only then will He be able to reveal to you His infinite love and desire for you. He shines all the colors of His Light on us, but we need to use more than our eyes to be a part of it. 

So if you know me then you know I cannot leave well enough alone. So let me share with you the beauty of science and faith.

One of God’s attributes is that He is light. In other words, He is every color there is—or white light. It is why the brightness of his being is blinding as Saul turned Paul found out. It is why God told Abraham he could not look upon him without dying. He is all, and everything. 

If pure light holds all colors and we can absorb light, then we can absorb God. And the light that is deflected? Perhaps that is a metaphor for what we can give back to the world. It’s God’s way of saying that we are each important in our own way and that if we allow God to shine upon us as David asks in Psalm 4:7, then not only will we absorb all the goodness He has to give us, but we will be able to reflect that unique part of us that God created in us individually, we can bring light to the world. 

Jesus pretty much said all this already! John 8:12 says, “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of life…hmmm. If we remember God’s trait as all color then perhaps Jesus is using the science of color to talk about the Father as well. But Jesus takes science even further. In Matt 5:14 he says, “You are the light of the world…” I encourage you to read on as Jesus makes the point that we will shine for others and that our light should not be hidden.

The moral of the story? We reflect God’s light. Each of us absorbs light in the unique DNA way God created us and we reflect His love with that same uniqueness.

That is…if we choose to believe with more than our eyes.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Looks Dead...



Has your winter been harsh? 

I think there are many of us in the U.S. that can agree that this last winter was pretty stinky. Whether you live in the east, south, north or west, we all saw weather conditions that just didn’t seem right.

Recently a writer friend challenged me to describe my winter here in Colorado. Words such as bitter, desolate, never-ending, bleak, dark, and stark came to mind. 

Those words seemed flat, so I tried to include more descriptive words to add some flavor. Freezing, ferocious, soaked, unyielding, gloomy, dismal and forsaken seemed about right.

“Wait,” she said, “those sound more like words of mourning than words of winter.”

“Is there a difference?” 

“You tell me,” she answered.

Little did I know how she was leading me to see how my winter season was really the winter I was feeling in my heart after losing my mom.

Life changes.

April 1st is the time to begin pruning back the dead stems of the rose bushes in Colorado. So I headed out to clean out my front garden and clip off all the brown withered stalks of my roses as well as clean out the dead foliage of my lilies and peonies. 

Snipping away I found new rose shoots appearing many places. Some were at the bottom of the bush, some along what looked like dead branches. It was a reminder to me that not everything that looks dead remains that way. 

Much like me. What a tough winter it has been. My mom died on December 21st, the first day of the season of winter and my heart entered a desolate time of its own. Since then the struggle to just move ahead has been challenging at times. But with the onset of spring, I remember that there is new life. New life for my mom and the promise of new life for me.

Over the past couple months I have been asked to talk with people about science and faith and how they intertwine. Getting to share my passion has been a good distraction for me. Then last week when I was thanking our pastor for recommending me yet again for the same topic, he said, “Well, it is your ministry.”

I was totally taken back by that statement. My ministry…

I never really thought about it like that. An interest, yes. A passion, of course. But a ministry? Huh. 

Then I started pruning those thorny bushes out front and saw those new shoots. It was a reminder that though winter this year was the roughest I’ve ever seen, new promise is revealed. Yes, I need to trim away the dead parts of me…the hurt, the pain, and the consumption of chocolate (because all the chocolate in the world won’t bring my mom back), there are still parts of me that come back anew. 

I shared so many things with my mom. And I thought the science and faith passion we shared was one of those dead branches that needed to be pruned back, lost forever. But no. What looks dead does not always remain that way. 

What an appropriate lesson for me to learn this week as we enter the holiest time of the year, the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What looks dead WILL NOT remain dead. 

Amen. 


I am grateful to the Lord for such a visual reminder in nature…in science.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God is Everywhere





I remember learning as child that God was everywhere. Wrapping my head around such an idea at a young age was pretty impossible, especially since children demand everything to be  tangible. I sat for hours trying to figure out how God was in the closet and if He was, why he didn’t get rid of the monsters that I just knew were lurking in there. 

Even at school we talked about it. I had one friend who went from flower to flower, bending down, squinting one eye shut and staring with the other asking, “God, are you in there?” From the playground we’d watch passing cars from behind the chain-linked fence, and once in a while someone would say, “Maybe God’s in that one.”

It was a contemplation that we just couldn’t wrap our heads around. Until one day. In December. Maybe it was because we were so cold that our brains were shivering all the ideas together, or that we were learning about the birth of Jesus, but one friend, Julie said, “The reason God is everywhere is because the whole world is in His tummy.” Aha! Finally. Something that made sense. We all took to drawing pictures of an old man with an earth smack dab in the middle of his abdomen. 

I know that I breathed easier that day. I could finally put that mystery to bed. Later I asked Julie how she had been so brilliant in her conclusion (we were so smart I’m sure I used those exact words…) and she just looked at me and said, “Well, if your mommy can carry a baby in her tummy, why can’t God carry all of us in His?” (see my footnote.)

Catechism 101. Done. 

I look at that today and think, “Wow, Julie, you weren’t that far off.” Why?

1.      Genesis 1:27 says that we are made in God’s image. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I take that verse very seriously and I have many takes on it. I will be expanding on some of those very soon, but for now I’ll give you one example. Deep down in the very depths of us, in our DNA, amino acids come together in three’s called codons, and those three’s combine with each other to define our genetic makeup. Our God is Trinitarian, so at the very center of our creation—we mirror Him.
 2.    The one thing we need to survive in this world is water. Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, and two-thirds of the human body is water. Water aids in cell division and generation as well as every aspect of our being. It hydrates us more profoundly that we realize. And a water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, reflecting once again the Trinity—Our God.
3.      Every living thing needs water to survive and everything in the world was formed by water. We read in Genesis 1 that water was there AT creation (vs 2). And Genesis 1:9 tells us that water receded to form land. We know from science about glaciers and even how rushing rivers formed land masses such as the Grand Canyon. Water was instrumental in God’s creating. And it still is. (Funny, but with all the talk about the differences in science and faith, we can’t seem to see they fit perfectly together as they did during creation.)
4.      God carries us each and every day, just like a pregnant woman. Sometimes we think to ask for His presence, sometimes we don’t, but just because we don’t ask doesn’t mean He’s not there.

So now in my contemplation I see that Julie was right. God is bigger than us. He is bigger than all of creation. And yet, He takes the time to be with each of us, individually, and in our own unique way. 

I go back to Julie’s image of my pregnant mom. How much more would we experience God’s love if we imagined Him caring for us as loving mother cares for her unborn child? Completely, unconditionally, and continually. Hmmm. Just take 3 seconds and picture that. Ahhh…




Footnote: It seemed my mom was always pregnant, but then again I am the oldest of eight kids. In reality she pretty much was. She told me once that if felt like it too! And to be honest, that’s how I picked her out of a crowd as a child. I looked for women, then scanned for the amazing red hair, then I looked to see if the woman was pregnant. Bingo! Worked every time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pain with a Purpose



It’s been a while. I know. 

And so much has happened. Too much for a single post. 

I lost my mom in December. December 21st at 7am to be exact. While my parent’s clock chimed the Ave Maria, my mom breathed her last here on earth. And it has been hard. 

Not for her though, she finished her task, her journey, and she is receiving her reward. But for the rest of us who remain, there’s been a hole. To fill that emptiness seemed wrong and for a long time I wanted it there…I needed that void there. I just didn’t know it was in the wrong place. 
 
Many of my friends have told me that there is this “club” for those who have lost a parent. It’s not one they knew they joined until it happened, but it’s a club that welcomes everyone because the rest of the members know what that chasm feels like. 

My mother was very patient with me when I would share any new found science or faith tidbit that I thought was important. I’d talk through my ideas until they were well formed and sometimes those discussions helped mold my posts. 

There was one science idea that had special meaning to her. You can read it here, but to summarize, it was the examination of research that showed from the time that a baby is conceived in a mother’s womb, the forming human sends signals to the mother in the manner of lymphocytes that tell the mother not to expel this new life. Those lymphocytes are sent continually during pregnancy and attach to the mother’s nervous system. Over thirty years later those lymphocytes are still found in the mother—same place—unchanged. 

My mother went through thirteen pregnancies. She had eight children who remained on earth and five that preceded her to heaven. We all knew they would be there to greet her and thank her for the gift of life, no matter how short it was on earth. We all felt it would be a wonderful homecoming for her, because she never forgot them while she was here in this life. 

That lymphocyte science that I shared with her had special meaning. It meant that it was okay to feel nervous when her children left the nest. It was okay to feel angst when they did things that may hurt them in the future. And it was okay to feel that loss and pain of those who never got the chance to be here on earth.

That pain and loss was real. It was not imaginary. It was not all in her head or her heart. It was actually a physical part of her. Each child, with their own unique footprint of DNA was attached to her nervous system and with that piece of God’s plan she was connected to them forever. 

So what of that hole that I have? I realize now that it is real as well. The science is obvious…her DNA meshed with my dad’s to make me. It’s not just the old age spots that I now see on my hands that I inherited from her or the cheekbones and smile that mirror hers. It’s the connection that we will always share. The physical connection of the DNA she shared with me that binds us and that no one can take that away. For me, there is a comfort beyond all words to know that. It’s a personal consolation. 



Now that I understand that chasm, I understand longing for home even more than I did before. My steps are more determined, my choices are more meaningful and my days make more sense. Even in her physical absence, my mother guides me. She properly placed that hole where it belonged…a longing for the heavenly home that Christ prepares for us all. 

I’m not saying the hole doesn’t hurt, it does. But it’s a pain with a purpose…the perseverance to get Home.

(That's my mom giving me my first birthday cake.)