Monday, December 22, 2008
Originally, I was going to blog on the historical significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it’s meaning not just for Catholics, but all Christians, all people of the Americas. But life caught up with me.
I had also promised that I would talk about the significance of the star that shown over Bethlehem, but again everyday life interrupted that thought as well.
As I reflected further on the topic of my blog, I realized what interested me most was something that encompassed both celestial stars and miraculous appearances. From here on earth, in our little corner of the universe, what strikes me is that we are important enough to warrant the ability to see stars from other galaxies as well as receive visits from heavenly guests.
For the most part, viewing stars and heavenly figures requires the human sense of sight.
We create powerful telescopes to view fiery balls in far away universes and run thousands of tests to find out more about our own sun. Scientists spend entire lifetimes dedicated to determining the future of our galaxies.
What about heavenly figures? Can we determine when they will appear? The wise men knew to follow the star, but they could not predict where it would appear or exactly where the new king would be born.
It seems that our sight is limited. Are we bound to the sense of sight or do we possess more?
We hold in the depths of our hearts a treasure that goes far beyond the physical. Truly, our spiritual soul makes us tick. While we are driven to understand the cosmic aspects of our universe, that knowledge won’t make or break us. However, failing to understand the inner workings of our souls will.
When Jesus came to earth, what did he teach? Did he spend his time discussing celestial stars and how they work? No, he was occupied with teaching us how to save our souls. He spoke truths about humanity that we still grapple with today. Time after time, he tried to explain that God’s love was more important than any physical aspect we could see, touch, feel, smell or taste with our senses.
Yet today, what makes the news… scientific findings or how many souls have been saved?
We’re still focused on the physical aspects of this universe and not the spiritual. Just last week, we heard from scientists that the earth’s magnetosphere works completely differently than they first postulated. “Scientists have found two large leaks in Earth's magnetosphere, the region around our planet that shields us from severe solar storms.” http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,468268,00.html
Does this surprise anyone? Even when we think we know something, we don’t! In our continuous quest to be “like God”, “Masters of our own Universe”, we fail. But we keep trying.
Why don’t we put as much time into the quest of salvation as we do the quest for knowledge? We haven’t changed much from Adam and Eve, have we?
OH!!! But that is the Good News! We have. We have received salvation from a babe born in Bethlehem so long ago. This second Adam came to give us what we desire; he quenched the thirst of spiritual dehydration. And it is a condition that all humanity suffers, no matter what mouths profess.
It comes down to this: the ability to believe.
What will you believe? Will you believe in scientists whose findings constantly change or will you believe in the spiritual force that drives every human being? Will you be viewing life from a telescope? Or will you be viewing life from the depths of your soul?
(The picture above is a NASA photo of solar flare taken by the TRACE space probe in 2005. But I prefer to think of it as my soul on fire for the Lord!)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
"…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)
We read this story every Christmas. In our faith, we know that Jesus came down from heaven and became human for our sake. So who were Jesus' parents?
Our Christian faith tells us that Jesus had a human mother, a virgin named Mary. Luke tells us this in his story of when the angel, Gabriel visited Mary. In Hebrew tradition, when the Old Testament uses this terminology, the author refers to a man and woman coming together to produce a child.
Here we see that Luke says that Jesus' father is indeed our "Most High". In essence, this means that the two parents of Jesus were Mary, his human mother, and God, His Heavenly Father.
The implications of this for DNA are very interesting. As humans, in our human nature, we know there are imperfections with regard to our DNA. But with the "DNA of God", there would be no imperfections, if indeed there were such a thing. In studying biochemistry, we learn that a child’s DNA comes from both the mother and the father. Did Jesus have Mary’s DNA only, or was half his set divine DNA?
Once we ask this question, many more come to mind. If Jesus did indeed have a divine DNA piece, is this DNA in fact what allowed him to see things from his Father’s point of view? Is this why he was able to readily perform miracles and read people’s souls? Do we consider the distress Jesus’ soul felt constantly saying no to sin in his humanness?
Can you imagine the torment you would have knowing that you are contained in a human body and feel all the pain, the mental and physical suffering, yet you do not take yourself down from the cross? You allow the human side of you to face the anguish of knowing that your body will die and it doesn’t have to. That is truly what it means to do the will of the Father…to deny yourself and instead life yourself up as a sacrifice for the salvation of human souls. It was a decision Jesus made.
Jesus Christ took on the form of a human being. He constrained himself to the human form and all its limitations. He knew before he said “yes” to the Father, what his humanness would entail and yet Jesus still took on the weight of our sins.
I discovered the following link while I was researching something else. It is an interested treatise on Mary’s role in Jesus’ life. I hope you’ll find it compelling as well.
Next week, I’ll touch on the subject of the star above Bethlehem and the meaning of the angels singing at the birth of the Savior.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Dear Child of Mine:
Do you know how much I love you?
Do you know how the light refracts off a simple red rose and into your retina to give you that vibrant color you see? Do you know how many neurons fire when you smell and taste your favorite food?
I love you that much.
Do you know that 7.5x10(24) molecules are in that glass of water you drink? Water nourishes your body, it hydrates your cells, but I can hydrate your soul. I can hold all those molecules, but I want to hold you.
I love you that much.
Do you know that Mount Everest is 29028 feet high and the oceanic Mariana Trench is 36090 feet deep?
That means just on earth the difference between the highest peak and the deepest oceanic trench is 12.33 miles. Can your arms stretch out that far? Mine can.
I love you that much.
Do you know how far light travels from the sun to kiss your skin here on earth? Do you look up at night and wonder how far away that twinkling star is?
I love you that much.
I love you so much that I sent my son to stretch out his arms high on the cross, just for you. The soldiers pulled so hard they dislocated those arms, and Jesus endured that just for you.
I am God of the universe. My love stretches to infinity. My arms stretch to infinity. So what do you think will happen if you allow me to love you? My arms will encompass you as nothing else can. You will feel the warmth of the sun, the hydration of your soul, the vibrant colors of all creation, the love that stretches its arms to infinity.
That’s how much I love you.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
At last!!! We reach the final step in our “Scientific Method”…the conclusion. There are plenty of you who thought last week’s “experiment” was a little different, but I hope it made a point.
So what is our conclusion? In our first couple of steps, we asked the question: “Given the scientific data of what it means to be human, does the pre-born child qualify as a human being?”
If we look at our observation, hypothesis, experiment, etc., we see that a new human being begins when the egg and sperm meet. We find our pre-born child is human because its unique blueprint, its DNA, is intact at the moment of conception. We also find that it is a distinct life form, not the mother’s body, but it’s own.
A new acquaintance of mine, Dr. Kevin Langford, the Director of the Pre-Health Professional Program at SFASU, agrees with me. However, his statement goes even further and is much more provocative. In a recent email, he said,
God initiated life at the “Creation” and life has continued unabated ever since that moment. My work with cells has also shown me that cells (the basic unit of life by scientific definition) are in fact, “ALIVE”. That would most certainly include a sperm and an egg. If either of those cells is rendered non-viable, there will be no fertilization, and no offspring. So, the argument of when life begins isn’t one in which I even consider. By the time there is a fertilized egg inside of a mother’s uterus, the discussion of when life “begins” is rather a moot point. Personally, I feel a better more thought provoking question would be, “when did it stop?”
So why does abortion exist?
The entire pro-choice movement is predicated on the following statement, “A woman has a right to do with her own body as she sees fit.”
Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
If we use this statement in conjunction with the United States Constitution then a woman does have the right to do as she sees fit to her body.
However, we must note something very important. If a woman is pregnant, then the life within her body is a separate person. “All men are created equal…” The rub is that she shouldn’t have the right to end that life just because it exists inside her body. The argument that a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body becomes illogical and moot if another person is harmed in the process of a woman considering only her body.
The heart of the matter is something that we’ve grown to accept in this country and in modern society in general. We are horribly inconvenienced by others. We are even inconvenienced by ourselves.
I recently saw an ad for a woman’s contraceptive whose whole ad campaign was: pre-menstrual symptoms can “impact your life.” Duh! (Very unprofessional, but nevertheless it fit here.)
We want convenience at any cost. We have become a society that sees our own personal needs as the most important aspect of our existence. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and others recognize the fact that sacrifice (for others) becomes a benefit for society as a whole. Although these religions state this ideology, members of those faiths are many times oblivious to what their traditions teach.
From time to time, I’ve mentioned Amendment 48 here in Colorado. Many people have asked why Amendment 48 in Colorado failed and why similar amendments around the country failed.
Socialism, communism, and fascism have won. We no longer know or understand what our Christian, Jewish, or Hindu roots teach. We have lost respect for the individual completely. We have become so numbed down that we don’t even know what we should believe.
With this numbing down, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why we can differentiate a woman’s body from a child’s body. It’s no doubt that we call it a “woman’s right”. It’s no doubt that we can’t seem to agree on when human life begins. If it’s all about us, then how can we possibly see what’s outside of us?
The funny thing is science knows when life begins. If it didn’t, it would be interested in embryonic stem cells or in-vitro fertilization. Science knows when life begins. Deep down we do too. It’s just become inconvenient for us to be stewards of life. So when Dr. Langford says, “the thought provoking question is when did it (life) stop?” I think we’ll find that the only place life stops is in our minds when we refuse to see past ourselves.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
For the last several weeks, we’ve been using the Scientific Method to talk about the pre-born child. I’ve received a couple of emails on this topic. One thanked me for covering such a topic and the other asked why bother. “Why is such a topic important?”
I’ll address that question at the end of this posting, but I’d like to continue my original theme first. This week’s posting deals with the fourth aspect of the Scientific Method called the Experiment. It tests the hypothesis. In our case, we are testing the following TOPIC (or question): "Given the scientific data of what it means to be human, does the pre-born child qualify as a human being?"
According to the scientific method website
http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/scientific_method.html , the experiment “is the most important part of the scientific method. It’s the logical process that lets scientists learn about the world.”
(I don’t know about you, but I don’t think you are required to have a degree in science to learn about the world.)
We know that DNA exists for each individual from the moment the first cell is created from the sperm and the egg. For nine months, that individual grows and matures inside the mother’s womb without the world “looking in.”
So what’s our experiment? So many experiments out there touch on human life. Which one do we choose?
I’ve actually chosen something completely different. Why rehash all the old arguments?
Therefore, my experiment is an exercise for our imagination and logic skills.
Let’s say that the human race is visited by an alien race whose technology includes reducing all human life to its basic individual signature. In one instant, we are all turned to dust, but our DNA still exists in that dust. Going along their merry destructive way, that alien race continues through the galaxy.
Later, another more peaceful alien group, determined to undo the damage caused by the first alien race, visits earth. They have a method they use to “reconstitute” the DNA back into a living being. Based on individual DNA they go about undoing the destruction, giving humans back their bodies.
Question: If the alien’s method relies on DNA, will they be unable to reconstitute the pre-born child?
Since that child had its own DNA, it is reconstituted as its own life form. Why not? Everything that defined that person existed from time the first cell came into being.
As human beings, we are very short sided. We claim that because the pre-born child isn’t “fully formed”, it is not human, but that is incorrect by all scientific standards. Its DNA identifies it as human, not the maturity of its lungs, heart, brain or any other organ.
Our society has taken the “don’t see, don’t believe” stance. In other words, because we don’t “see” the life outside the mother’s womb, we as a society think we have domination over it.
Not only is this a fallacy, but it reeks of an elitist attitude that is selfish beyond the core. We did not choose our own life; it was a gift. We have no right to “choose” life for another—that is also a gift.
So back to the email I received that asked the question on why I would view the pre-born life a discussion worth “the time of day.” The very basic value of life is under discussion right now.
Amendment 48 makes that clear. Do we have a right to take another’s life simply because they cannot voice their opinion? No. As soon as that line is blurred, we will move on to the next line. Can an infant defend itself outside the womb? No. Then it has no right to life. Can an elderly person defend himself? No, then he is not needed. Can physically or mentally challenged people defend themselves? No, then they need to make room for those who can.
The list will never stop, the lines blurred forever.
We have a “no tolerance” bullying policy in our schools, so why can’t we have a “no bullying” policy on those who cannot defend themselves in life?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But first, let’s remind ourselves what the word science means. The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge. (http://sciencemadesimple.com/science-definition.html)
Do we have an understanding of what “knowledge” means?
a(1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2): acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1): the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one's information or understanding
Why do I go to such lengths to define the terminology that we are using? Sometimes we take for granted words that we use every day without considering the impact those words have or really mean. The words from the definition that stick out in my mind are: familiarity, understanding, being aware of something, and circumstance or condition of apprehending truth. Remember these, they will come in handy later.
Okay, so now we’re ready to tackle the second step of the Scientific Method. Our first resource, “Science Made Simple,” says the following about hypothesis. This word basically means "a possible solution to a problem, based on knowledge and research." The hypothesis is a simple statement that defines what you think the outcome of your experiment will be. (http://sciencemadesimple.com/scientific_method.html#HYPOTHESIS)
In other words, the hypothesis is a single question complemented by a simple answer that proposes a solution to your original question or consideration. Our experiment will be based on whatever we define our hypothesis to be.
With our topic in mind, my hypothesis will be:
TOPIC (or question): “Given the scientific data of what it means to be human, does the pre-born child qualify as a human being?”
OBSERVATION: I believe that the pre-born child does qualify as a human being because:
(1) From the moment of conception, every piece of information that a person needs to be human is contained in the dividing cells of that embryo (zygote).
(2) Through informal, exploratory observations, the growth of the human embryo always results in a human being.
The third step in the Scientific Method, prediction, is the part of the method that allows you to “get specific -- how will you demonstrate that you hypothesis is true?” (http://sciencemadesimple.com/scientific_method.html#PREDICTION)
Let’s use these definitions to work our way through the second and third steps of the Scientific Method for the pre-born child.
Through the diligent research of Crick and Watson, we know that every living thing has DNA and that DNA is unique to each particular life form (We know that the DNA of a fruit fly is separate and unique to the DNA of a human. While chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas most closely “relate” to human through DNA (chromosomal mapping is similar in specific areas, but humans have 23 chromosomes), human DNA is still unique.
What is even more mind-boggling is the fact that each human’s DNA is unique to them. So for example, even though both Tom and Judy have human DNA, their particular genes are unique to them. Each and every person contains their own genes within their 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up their DNA. We know from familiarity that is true. We observe other humans on a daily basis. We see that even though siblings are related, they are still their own unique individuals. This leads me to the understanding that every human is unique and should be given respect that human life demands.
Our next step is to tackle the informal observations part of the hypothesis. This is rather easy. For example, the growth of the human embryo always results in a human being. We are aware that when a human female is pregnant, she will always give birth to either a male or female human being. Our being aware of something is that we (from the time that we are small) are not worried that our mother is having a puppy or a kitten, but a human being. This is also the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth.
Now that I have the observations set, it is relatively simple to come up with the following prediction.
Using DNA as evidence, the pre-born child is a human being.
Pretty fun, huh?
Next week, we get into some interesting thoughts with the next step of the Scientific Method, the experiment. Until then, consider how you might approach such an experiment.
Thanks for tuning in!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Two weeks ago, I talked about using the Scientific Method to investigate the pre-born child.
Last week I abandoned all science to share my feelings on a family happening. This week, I return to the original theme of using science.
I do not wish to negate the importance of last week’s blog. I believe that God has given us a conscience and a heart for a reason and we are asked to make decisions using these faculties every day.
Nevertheless, there are those out there who seem to separate science from conscience and therefore it is necessary to provide a more sterile perspective in order to communicate with those who may not see life as a precious resource. Therefore, I venture into the Scientific Method…
The first step in the Scientific Method is called Observation. “This step could also be called ‘research.’ It is the first stage in understanding the problem you have chosen. After you decide on your area of science and the specific question you want to ask, you will need to research everything that you can find about the problem.” http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/scientific_method.html#OBSERVATION
I have chosen the pre-born child as the topic to investigate. This part of the method will be easy as there is so much information out there on the development stages of the “fetus”.
The first two months contains a great deal of formation and I have used the following website for all the information presented here. http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec22/ch257/ch257c.html
“Between 5 and 8 days after fertilization, the blastocyst attaches to the lining of the uterus, usually near the top. This process, called implantation, is completed by day 9 or 10. Then an inner layer of membranes (amnion) develops by about day 10 to 12, forming the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac fills with a clear liquid (amniotic fluid) and expands to envelop the developing embryo, which floats within it.
This stage is characterized by the formation of most internal organs and external body structures. Organ formation begins about 3 weeks after fertilization, when the embryo elongates, first suggesting a human shape. Shortly thereafter, the area that will become the brain and spinal cord (neural tube) begins to develop. The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop by about day 16 or 17. The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta.
Almost all organs are completely formed by about 8 weeks after fertilization (which equals 10 weeks of pregnancy). The exceptions are the brain and spinal cord, which continue to mature throughout pregnancy. Most malformations (birth defects) occur during the period when organs are forming. During this period, the embryo is most vulnerable to the effects of drugs, radiation, and viruses.
At the end of the 8th week after fertilization (10 weeks of pregnancy), the embryo is considered a fetus. During this stage, the structures that have already formed grow and develop. The following are markers during pregnancy:
• By 12 weeks of pregnancy: The fetus fills the entire uterus.
• By about 14 weeks: The sex can be identified.
• By about 16 to 20 weeks: Typically, the pregnant woman can feel the fetus moving.
• By about 24 weeks: The fetus has a chance of survival outside the uterus.
The lungs continue to mature until near the time of delivery. The brain accumulates new cells throughout pregnancy and the first year of life after birth.”
There is so much information presented here, but the highlights include that the baby’s heart begins to beat at 28 days from time of conception. The baby’s organs have formed by week 8.
One of the most important pieces of information to consider is that the baby’s DNA is formed from the moment the egg and sperm meet. Everything to make that child who they will become is present from the very first time the cell divides.
For those of us who believe in a Creator, it begs the question of when does the child receive their soul? It is my theory that if the child has every detail worked out in it’s DNA from the moment of conception, then why wouldn’t their soul be present? Some Jewish traditions hold that the baby isn’t given a soul until it is born.
So here is the biggest question of all: If by 24 weeks the baby has a chance of survival outside the uterus, then why is partial birth abortion allowed? The procedure demands that the mother partially delivers the baby, everything except the head. It is at that point that the child’s head is punctured and it’s brain is sucked out.
These are all observations. The facts about how a human is formed, the facts about a “medical” procedure. They are all undeniable. (Sometimes the truth is harsh.)
Next week, we will tackle the next element of the Scientific Method, the hypothesis. In the meantime, there is a great YouTube video that shows the stages of the growth of the pre-born child. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS1ti23SUSw&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR-Qa_LD2m4 . Enjoy watching them and see how you were formed.
P.S. Trinity Rose, I miss you. Love, Aunt Retta.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I try to be very methodical with regard to my discussions on science and faith. However, there are times when systematic reasoning does not apply to this human reality that we live in.
Yesterday was one of those days. Let me explain.
Sunday night, my brother and sister-in-law gave birth to a little girl, Trinity Rose. Her gestational period had only been 23 weeks. This tiny little human being opened her eyes and turned her head toward voices. Her tiny little hand grasped her mother’s thumb. Her legs were the size and length of my fingers, and her arms were the size of my pinky. Her beautifully shaped nose was the size of this letter “O” and her wonderfully fashioned ears were the size of small buttons.
Nevertheless, she was here. She was beautiful and she was human. Weighing only about a pound, she was a human being that Children’s Hospital considered viable. They tried everything to keep her here with her parents.
Regrettably, that was not her fate.
Yesterday afternoon, as my family gathered to see this tiny expression of God’s love, she left us as quietly as she had been formed in her mother’s womb. What she left was more powerful than any words spoken, more beautiful than any rose. What she gave us was a moment in time to imagine God’s love. She left a statement more influential than any legislation, more thoughtful than any philosophical argument.
With the quiet beating of her heart, she said, “I am here. I am a gift from God. Treasure me for these few moments that can I be with you. Love me for my uniqueness; hold me close to your heart."
As I watched Trinity Rose’s mother hold her and her father embrace them both, I experienced a moment lost in time. Though I heard the clock tick away the moments that sweet baby would grace the earth with her presence, everything stopped. A family here as it should be. Loving, protected, meaningful.
As we cry for her parent’s loss, we are graced by her appearance. As we mourn, we are educated. No matter how people argue whether the child in the mother’s womb is viable, no matter how heated the dispute gets, one reality that cannot be denied. This tiny person held her mother’s finger and looked into her eyes. Her mother and father will always treasure her and no legislation can separate these hearts.
Science is a method used to describe nature’s facts. It can never describe what’s in the heart.
Last week, my posting said I would use the Scientific Method to discuss the preborn child. I asked a pro-choice friend of mine to read it, hoping we could discuss her thoughts. She indicated that she couldn’t, it would just make her angry.
I reflected on why that would be. Why would you be angry discussing such a topic? But after yesterday, I understand. Those who fear the truth turn their fear into anger; it is their only weapon, it is their only defense. Once a person is educated on the truths of what it means to be a person, they are forever changed. Some people cannot bear to experience the reality of what that means.
Beginning life issues have always been a topic for the heart. Science can never take the place of that. Abortion, stem cell research, embryonic manipulation, and all other beginning life issues will not be won in the “trenches,” but by the pure persuasion of the heart, by pure love for humanity. Simply put all battles that are truly won by standing at the foot of the Cross. Love given, love received.
That’s what Trinity Rose will always be. Love given. Love received.
Monday, September 29, 2008
We’ve talked so much about science, but we’ve never defined it, so I thought I’d start a short series of postings on science and how it applies to so many different things in our lives.
Okay, I know what you are thinking…you’re scared, you’re shivering…NOOOO, don’t make my brain hurt! But before you skip to the next blog on your list, remember this…science is more than growing experiments in your refrigerator. Remember the meatloaf from two weeks ago? Is it still in there…looming…waiting…growing…morphing…
Oh, back to reality. I’ll take that meatloaf out later.
Science is not boring. Science is key to understanding our God and logical concept that there is a God.
So here’s the deal, read the next paragraph, then the next. If after that, you’re still bored, move on to the next blog on your list.
“How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is ‘knowledge attained through study or practice,’ or ‘knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.’” (http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/science-definition.html )
So did you read that? “Knowledge attained through study or practice” and “knowledge covering general truths”. When you study science, you find truth. Who is truth? John 8:31-32 says the following, “Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
God is truth and all creation comes from Him. So how do you separate yourself from science? You don’t. It’s IN you, it IS you, and it is FOR you. So how do you keep your head from hurting when you hear the word, science? You remember that God loves you and He made you… “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)
What do you observe, hypothesize, predict about life? What experiments and conclusions can you have? Over the next several postings, we’ll look at one aspect of life, the preborn child, and apply the scientific method to “our problem”. Let’s consider together when a human becomes a human. Let’s see what we can learn from science.
Did you make it to the end?
Monday, September 22, 2008
There have been several times this week where I’ve heard a fabulous word around me and it seemed the right time to put it in my blog.
In one instance, I heard a disc jockey talking to a listener about his disappointment when a situation didn’t meet his expectations.
In another case, a friend of mine was talking about her birthday and all the fun things that happened on her special day. Although it was great, it wasn’t what she hoped…what she imagined.
At CERN a couple weeks ago, everyone was thrilled at the prospect of smashing particles together. Their imaginations ran wild with all the possibilities. Amy left a comment on last week’s blog saying that her friend was very excited about CERN starting up.
She should be.
So why do we have a habit of looking beyond? Why is it never enough? Why aren’t we ever satisfied?
Imagination is a double-edged sword. It gives us our hopes and dreams, but sometimes takes us beyond reality. We are disappointed with that reality.
Imagination leads us to create—it gives wings to our ideas. Yet, in those wings, we sometimes forget that our imagination keeps us in chains through disappointment.
So why do we have imagination?
I believe that God gave us our imaginations in hopes that we would use them to imagine His love for us and for creation. To know creation, to understand how particles smash together, is to know God. To me, that’s the real draw of science.
What is really mind-boggling is the fact that God is the one thing that our imaginations can never completely grasp. We will never seize all that is our Creator—yet that means that we will never be disappointed.
Those who are disappointed with “religion” are really just disappointed with themselves. They can’t see past their shortcomings. They can’t imagine that God loves them.
So I say, go ahead CERN, smash those proton particles together, make it happen. God will not let you down. Whatever you find will blow you away.
Just remember whatever you find is only limited by your imagination…not God’s. And just remember to be thankful that as scientists you really are looking for God. You just don’t know it.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Congratulations! If you are reading this, you are still alive.
The Large Hadron Collider (CERN) facility came online and the 17-mile underground physics experiment fired proton beams. No black hole sucked us up; we are still here.
If you’re in the “dark” with regard to CERN, here are several articles you can read that will educate you. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,420062,00.html ; http://public.web.cern.ch/public/ ; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,414546,00.html this last one shows a cool rap song that explains the concepts.)
The bottom line is that scientists have tried to create an environment to test their theories on how the Big Bang happened. They are going to let protons smash into each other to see if they can recreate the Big Bang on a smaller scale. There have been smaller proton smashing labs, but this facility is the largest particle collider on earth. Why should you care?
CERN scientists are looking for several things. They are hoping that “…the CERN experiments could reveal more about ‘dark matter,’ antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time.” (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,418582,00.html . All quotes come from this article.)
Another tidbit scientists hope to ascertain is “evidence of the hypothetical particle—Higgs boson—which is sometimes called the ‘God particle’ because it is believe to give mass to all other particles, and thus to matter that makes up the universe.” (The following link gives a good basic understanding of the Higgs boson with examples that are easy to comprehend: http://www.exploratorium.edu/origins/cern/ideas/higgs.html )
Are you wondering what it all means? It means that scientists are trying to figure out what makes the universe tick. They think that a Higgs boson exists, but no one has ever seen it. If the Higgs boson exists, then scientists will be able to better theorize how the universe came to be.
So much of all this recent CERN press makes me smile and it makes me wonder what God thinks of all this. Never mind that no one has ever seen a Higgs boson, yet we have seen God (the opium of the masses). Scientists are willing to stick their necks out for a Higgs boson, but not for God. Interesting…
No! That’s not what makes me smile. This whole episode makes me wonder what kind of “movie” humanity is in. Indulge me.
Some scientists are deeply concerned that the smashing of these particles will cause micro-black holes that suck Earth right in. They have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii and in the European Court of Human Rights. So are we in a thriller movie where the Earth is threatened by a rogue asteroid as in Armageddon or a comet in Deep Impact?
Perhaps we are in another genre like the James Bond movies. There are scientists who think that the CERN facility is safe and they are not concerned about any antimatter problems. These quantum physics people are confident that nothing will go wrong. Completely focused on their experiments, they are sure we’re all safe…all 6 billion of us. So maybe we are in a doomsday movie like Independence Day.
Maybe we are in a Greek tragedy where scientists are so guided by a strange fascination (the Higgs boson) that they completely ignore what’s in front of their faces and destroy humanity with a black hole.
But really what I wonder is if the real genre is one of those love story movies where the guy (the scientists) is so oblivious to the love right in front of him that he nearly loses the girl (God) because he’s basically forgotten what he’s looking for or why he’s looking at all.
No matter the sort of movie, all the hullabaloo makes me wonder what God thinks of CERN. We are so concerned that we are going to be swept up in black holes or that we are going to determine the origins of the universe that we’ve completely set aside what is important. Are we egotistical enough to think that God’s plan is so simple that we can and will figure it out? Moreover, what will be the outcome if we are able to solve these questions? If humanity’s past is any indicator, then we will seek to control everything from the weather to the appearance of cosmic phenomena. It is always amazing to me that there are those who think resolving these scientific questions will answer all their questions.
Take for example, the Higgs particle. The Higgs boson is a theoretical particle that gives mass to an object. I can see why it is sometimes called the “God particle”. God gives us mass. He is the gravity that pulls us towards Him.
I can’t help but consider that while we seek to discover the Higgs boson if subconsciously we are seeking God. As humans, we are constantly seeking answers, and truly, God is the answer to every question we’ll ever have. God is truth, love, and our destiny.
So back to the movies…
Every good movie has the goal of presenting a hero on a journey and that hero searches for his destiny, his truth. It seems to me that CERN is how humanity searches for its destiny.
No matter what the movie is, I wonder if God likes butter on His popcorn.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I blogged on the concept of dark matter in the segment, “Where’s the 96%?” I received many interesting responses in both email and blog comments. Of course, I received one from my esteemed Jewish friend who wants to remain anonymous (we’ll call him: Dr. E).
Usually I try to keep the topics light and not give too much info. However, Hebrew tradition is so rich that I wanted to share it with you in detail. Thank you for taking the time to deepen your knowledge of the gifts God has given to us.
Dr. E pointed out something very interesting. He reminded me of the Jewish version opening of the Bible in Genesis, “In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth—when the earth was astonishingly empty with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters—God said let there be light and there was light.” (Gen: 1:1-3)(The Chumash, the Art Scroll Series published by Mesorah Publications)
Darkness and Dark matter…pondering these words, Dr. E. asked the simple question, “Is the Bible telling us something that scientists are just now figuring out?”
Dr. E pointed out the Jewish word for darkness was choshech (the King James Version is choshek (http://www.sacrednamebible.com/kjvstrongs/STRHEB28.htm look up 2822)). When we break that down into its Hebrew letters, we get CHoSHeCH (when CH appears at the end of a Hebrew word, then it is a final CHaf). The capital letters signify the Hebrew consonants while the lower case letters address the vowels. Since the Hebrew alphabet does not include vowels, they are added with elements around the consonants.
After our discussion, I went to my Hebrew sources to review the meanings of the individual letters. Mystical Hebrew tradition takes each letter seriously and I hoped that it would reveal some interesting thoughts on the darkness that covered the earth at creation and the 96% of darkness that exists out in the universe.
Today I present just a few thoughts on what I found.
I start with (SH) first because there is a Hebrew thought that it relates to three separate units that when combined “result in completeness.” This spoke to me as the Trinity, so I started there.
SH-Y-N (SH) “stands high among the Sacred Letters (the Hebrew Alphabet) because it represents two names of God: the All-Sufficient, Unlimited One and Peace.” (The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought, by Rabbi Michael Munk)
This means that God is the All-Sufficient Creator; He needed no one to create the universe or the things in it. The Lord created an ever-expanding cosmos that seems unlimited to us, as He is the Unlimited One. To grasp the universe is to grasp our Creator…all knowing, all encompassing. Did you know that there is a letter SH-Y-N on the doorpost of every Jewish house? It represents the following, “Let God be present in this home. Let there be peace.” (The Book of Letters: A Mystical Alef-beit, by Lawrence Kushner.)
If we are made in the image and likeness of God—then this also corresponds to how God feels about being apart from us, as well as us being apart from God. Our Lord desperately wants us to be with Him, yet he ultimately gave us the gift of free will leaving that decision to each person individually.
The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet also imparts the idea, “By dedicating himself to the service of God, man can resolve the contradiction between human endeavor and trust in Him.”
In other words, if we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of God, we will be able to tell the difference between the useless quest of our own wishes and those that come from the Lord. Many times when we are in darkness, we do not see God’s wishes, but our own.
Perhaps the most intriguing letter is the final CH or as transliterated, CHa-F. According to The Book of Letters: A Mystical Alef-beit, CHa-F symbolizes “the palm of a hand filled with sincerity (Kavannah).” The Hebrew Alphabet: A Mystical Journey (by E. Hoffman) describes kavannah or kavana as a “one-pointedness of mind”, willpower, intentionality, and transcendental awareness.
My interpretation of one-pointedness is that God created us for Him. If we keep our eyes fixed on Him and our eyes fixed on the goal, we keep life in perspective. When we remove our gaze from our goal of Heaven and reaching God, our life simply takes on a less meaningful posture.
What do all these Hebrew reflections offer with regard to darkness? Within the original darkness that God created, He brought forth light. But within that darkness, He gives us His sincere love in every aspect of creation, whether it is the beautiful flower in front of us, or the forming star in a distant universe.
Although there is darkness, God does not leave us alone in it. We may not understand that 96% of the universe, but if we look at it from God’s eyes, if we keep our eyes fixed on Him, the Lord reveals to us His light and love.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Our pastor this week was giving us a pep talk on stewardship. He used 1 Corinthians 4:1 to remind us of how we are responsible for evangelizing others around us, but the more I reflected on this verse, the more I realized the importance of our stewardship from another perspective.
1 Cor 4:1: "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."
What are the mysteries of God? Of course, there’s the Trinity, the power of the Resurrection, and Heaven just name a few. But what if we looked at the mysteries of God from nature’s perspective?
There’s the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, our planet, our continent, our country, our state, our city, our neighborhood, our family, and our children. Why do I consider these mysteries?
The Big Bang theory and other “universe starter” theories all culminate around one idea: that at one moment in time “energy happened” and when it cooled, we got electrons, protons, etc. The universe came from a single point and expanded from there. Mysteries abound in this application of science since no scientist can tell you where the “energy” came from.
The fact that we are even here is fascinating. The fact that our planet can sustain life is amazing. The fact that scientists believe there are between 5 and 100 million species of life here on earth is awe-inspiring (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20109284/ ).
The consideration that human life starts with the sharing of two independent DNA samples that are immediately combined to create a brand new human is unfathomable. What’s even more incredible is that within that new one cell, everything a new human being needs to make them a unique being is there; and when that human being dies, it will be immediately extinct.
In my last posting we touched on the mysteries of this physical 4% of the known universe, but what other mysteries of God exist? Can you think of one? Leave a comment and we can share with each other.
Right now, I can think of a biggie! God loves us each individually for who we are and that He knows how many hairs are on our heads. That is a mystery to sink your teeth into! The mystery of that kind of love is so encompassing, that we never really grasp what Divine Love means.
What does stewardship mean in relation to these mysteries? It means that we are to grow and cultivate those around us by educating them with this reality. Yet how often do we take the time to even mention the words “God loves you” to others? What are we afraid of?
A steward’s job is a very important one. It means that we are entrusted with the care of life around us. How many times to we see a piece of trash on the ground, but don’t pick it up? Are we being good stewards with respect to our own earth? What about when we see someone abusing themselves or others? Do we take the time to say, “You are special to God, take care of yourself and your family.” Usually we believe that it’s none of our business. However, if we are stewards, then every human life is sacred and loved by God.
I feel Colorado’s call right now is to share the truth that Amendment 48 brings to light: “The term ‘Person’ or ‘Persons’ shall include any human from the time of fertilization.” Visit the Colorado for Equal Rights website to learn more. (http://www.coloradoforequalrights.com/ )
Stewardship is huge responsibility not to be taken lightly. As Christians, not only do we have a duty fight for life, but we have the responsibility to cultivate it. This means caring for human life, for the earth and our galaxy. Life is a mystery! Cultivate it! Love is a mystery. Share it!
Next week, what it means to be stewards of the universe. See you then.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I have to thank my husband for this week’s posting. He sent me an article: (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080804-mm-dark-energy-superclusters.html)
and suggested “96% of our universe can't be seen, but we are to believe it is there…remind you of anything else prominent in our lives?”
He referred to the following quote: “Dark energy is thought to make up about 74 percent of the universe, while dark matter — a mysterious form of matter that scientists can only detect by noting its gravitational pull on things — makes up about 22 percent. That leaves only 4 percent of the universe composed of things we can see and touch: the normal protons, electrons and neutrons called baryonic matter.”
Hmmmmm…a little math:
Dark energy 74% + Dark matter 22%
= Total unknown matter: 96%
Read the sentence again…Dark energy is thought to make up… dark matter a mysterious form of matter.
So, basically scientists are using “evidence” to produce this theory using other theories and laws, including the conservation of energy ( http://www.fi.edu/guide/hughes/energyconservation.html ) and Kepler’s law (http://home.cvc.org/science/kepler.htm ).
Fine, I accept this. Scientists are still learning about what makes our universe tick.
Okay, now I want to turn your attention to another topic.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Gen1:3)
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind…”(Exodus14:21)
“Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.” (John 6:11)
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30)
Facts: (1) The earth is here. (2) Moses was a real person and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate that Exodus 14:21 happened (http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/05-0498.html ). (3) Jesus existed and he fed over 5000 people, history does not dispute that. (4) Jesus healed many sick people and restored people to health…even life.
Fine. I accept this. I am still learning more and so are historians and archaeologists.
Scientists want us to believe things we can’t see…96% of what we can’t see. The Bible contains historic facts. Does it contain less than 4% of facts?
Scientists ask us to believe what we cannot see, yet believe God is a myth. There are Christians who ask us to believe the Bible, but discard science. So why can’t we all get along?
I believe it is because we are not asking the same question.
Which is the harder question to answer? How or why?
“How” is a question that can be answered with more research. “Why” is a question that can only be answered with the heart. If you cannot come to terms with your heart, then you can never answer the question why. If you are so threatened by the fact that there is something out there bigger than humankind, you may never get to the why and you will continue to be befuddled by the how. It is only when “how” and “why” come together that Truth makes sense.
While I don’t think Dr. Wayne Dyer would appreciate the way I use his quote (his new age thinking that you are your own universe doesn’t leave room for God), it doesn’t mean his quote doesn’t hold merit.
"Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change..."
How far could we get with science if we were determined to look at it through God’s eyes instead of our own? Just a thought.
(Picture from NASA:
Friday, July 11, 2008
I had the opportunity to experience a bunch of different things this week. I wanted to share some of them with you because they all boil down to the same result.
First, a friend sent me the following YouTube video on science and faith (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e4zgJXPpI4 ). You don’t need ANY science background to understand this video. It is very interesting and it follows the ideal of this blog, which is to educate others on the beautiful dance between science and faith.
After I finished that video, I clicked on another YouTube video that interested me: “The Church of Oprah Exposed” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA&feature=related ). I’m not a big Oprah fan for the simple reason that another author friend of mine was invited on her show and Oprah was all about Oprah and barely included her guests in her discussion. (I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. Her photo is on her monthly magazine…every month…only her face.) Anyway, that video is worth watching too. If you are Christian, you may or may not see Oprah’s subtle message that is affecting the way many others see Christianity.
Lastly, I received a barrage of emails this week on political candidates and their ideals. There were emails that described Obama Barrack as a caring, thoughtful Senator, concerned with all life issues. Other emails that describe John McCain as a family man who’s raised seven children including a little girl adopted from one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages.
What do all these experiences have in common? My take is EDUCATION.
First, the YouTube video introduces the gluing protein Laminin, it purpose of keeping us “glued” together and how Laminin exists in the shape of the cross. Laminin reveals God’s love in the tiniest protein. Without the help of a microbiologist from Texas, the Christian in the YouTube video Louie Giglio wouldn’t have been able to educate others on how appropriate this protein is to us today.
Secondly, the emails I received were designed to influence me, yet they lacked decision-making information. They talked about the character of each candidate, but their voting records (which reveal their actions) were missing. It made me think. How often do we take the time to go and find the voting records of political candidates? Do we rely solely on what others tell us, or the candidate’s speeches to influence our vote? Without educating ourselves, how do we make an informed decision?
Lastly, “The Church of Oprah” video is enlightening because it shows how vulnerable we are when we don’t KNOW our Christian faith. We need to understand what the truths of faith reveal and why they exist. It’s not appropriate to say, “It’s a church rule”. Our faith cannot increase if we live by rules alone. Rules are there for a reason, and we need to delve into the history of why they are there in order to make full sense of them in our lives.
For example, one thing Oprah said in her video was that there was a time when she rejected her Baptist roots because she heard the minister say, “God is a jealous God”. She interpreted that as the minister saying God was jealous of her. Since she believed God was a loving God, the whole jealousy thing didn’t fit. She rejected her Christian roots because of that simple sentence.
Christians who reflect on Scripture and educate themselves either through Bible study or through classes understand that the author who wrote that verse was indicating that God wants to be first in our lives. He loves us so much that He wants us to love him back as much as we can. It is silly and juvenile to believe that God is jealous of us. Such interpretation comes from a lack of critical thinking.
Taken completely out of context, Oprah is using this statement to persuade uneducated Christians of her “truth” instead of the real Truth.
So what did I learn this week?
Education is key and it doesn’t matter what the topic is! Science, faith, philosophy, and politics are just a few of the things we need to learn about. We cannot afford to be lazy any longer in this country. We are paying for it now as it is.
We need to take the time, learn something new, pray on it, and apply it to our lives. What have you learned today? (By the way: The picture is of a brain neuron.)
Thursday, July 3, 2008
This is part two of Robbie's blog on energy. It is clear from the responses of last week’s blog (or the lack thereof) that my topic was too heavy. Therefore, I’m scaling back a bit. I’ve collaborated with my dear friend Robbie Iobst (http://robbieiobst.blogspot.com/) to create a two-part blog on energy. Robbie is feeling the same way I am about blogging right now, so we put our heads together and came up with the following.
Energy. What is energy? According to Wikipedia, there are, “Several different forms of energy, including kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound energy, light energy, elastic, electromagnetic, chemical, nuclear, and mass have been defined to explain all known natural phenomena.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy)
Which one(s) do you have?
For me, there are days when I feel the gravitational force greatly…I move slower than molasses. I don’t have much thermal energy…I’m cold all the time. I have kinetic energy in that when I get going, I have a hard time stopping. I have a great deal of sound energy…just ask my kids about my yelling…I can even go nuclear with them (another type of energy). But what I have most is potential energy. In my head, I have many things in I want to accomplish.
Thus, we come back to the point of Robbie’s blog. Time and energy. I’m working on a couple of manuscripts now, and therefore haven’t done a great job of keeping up with my blog. Robbie is the same way. Our kids are off for the summer, which is cutting into the writing time too. It’s a great balancing act and there are times when I swear I hear circus music in the background.
Oh yeah, back to energy…
Wikipedia also defines conversation of energy: “While one form of energy may be transformed to another, the total energy remains the same. This principle, the conservation of energy, was first postulated in the early 19th century, and applies to any isolated system. According to Noether's theorem, the conservation of energy is a consequence of the fact that the laws of physics do not change over time.”
At first, this was a scary thought. The “total energy” remains the same. That means that my synchronized juggling act is in danger all the time. What now?!!!
I’ll tell you what! I’m leaving it up to the Lord. It is a façade to think that I’m in charge. What I need to remember is that if the Lord wants me to finish all these tasks, then I will. I shouldn’t try to keep up with everything!
For all those people out there who suffer from the same “energy crisis” as I do…
STOP! Enjoy the weather, enjoy your family and have a glass of lemonade (or Red Bull if you think it will help).
Faith…science…Got questions? What would you like me to talk about? Leave suggestions and we’ll work on them together.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Recently I was talking with a close friend about free will. You may ask yourself what this has to do with science…I did at first too.
The conversation followed the premise: Why didn’t Jesus make himself known to be God? Why do we have to discern for ourselves? Why didn’t he prove it? For that matter, why didn’t God the Father come down and take care of the whole question!
The answer is free will. God loves us so much that he is willing to let us choose whether or not we want Him. Remember the famous saying, “If you love someone set them free, if they come back they’re yours, if they don’t, they never were.” (See these and so many versions of this saying at: http://teratalks.com/index.php/teratalks/comments/if_you_love_someone_set_her_free/)
So it is with God. God wants us to choose Him.
If God showed up one day and you could see Him, you’d know just how real He is. However, if He just showed up, you wouldn’t have the choice to believe, you’d be forced to believe because He would be standing right in front of you. Free will wouldn’t exist.
However, do we realize that He is already amongst us? In my current manuscript, I show the many ways in which God is present in our DNA. But more subtly than that, God exists in every part of nature that we see and experience. Every tree, every bug, every sunrise and sunset, God is present. That is our proof that God exists.
Scientists grapple with questions of how the Big Bang happened, and the first event that even caused the Big Bang to happen. They look throughout the universe seeking evidence of the first elements, and how long those elements have existed. However, the question they are asking isn’t really the right question. The question is why. Why did the Big Bang happen? For me, I have to ask, “How fantastic was “the plan” that after the Big Bang happened I can now smell a stunning rose or experience an incredible sunset? In my imagination, I could never dream of such beautiful things.
The even greater question comes to mind. How can anyone have such a grand plan that everything in nature works in harmony? The “Grand Plan” contains many systems that keep nature working. For example, bees gather pollen for themselves, which makes honey for mammals to enjoy. But at the same time, those same bees are pollinating plants so that those plants can create fruits and vegetables for us to eat. Fecal matter from cows and sheep and other animals is used as compost to grow crops. Everything has a purpose; everything is in the Grand Plan.
So how do we go along life and not notice these things? How do scientists sit in their laboratories, eat their lunches and not consider that the Grand Plan provided them with that meal? How do we get to the point where we take all this for granted?
The answer is the same. Free will. If we were forced to acknowledge that God provided that meal, we would be forced to believe that we answer to a higher power and we would be stripped of free will. We would be stripped of true love.
In a past posting entitled, “The Bees Are Dying” (http://lorettaoakes.blogspot.com/2008/03/bees-are-dying.html), I talked about how bees become disoriented (Colony Collapse Disorder). Scientists believe this phenomenon is due to the increase in cell phone usage. The cell phone waves are interrupting the bees’ radar.
Now I want to take this a step further. Scientists have been genetically engineering crops for quite a while now for several reasons. They want to make the crops disease and pest resistant, increase productivity of the crop as well as enhance the size of the fruits from the crop. We are proud of ourselves in “manipulating” nature to get what we want.
However, what effect does that have on the rest of the system? When we change the DNA of even the simplest flower (how many hybrids do you plant every year?), how does that affect the pollen of that plant, the bees that pick it up, or the honey that is created from it? Do we know how we’ve affected the complete system?
Do we recognize that in actions of manipulating DNA, we’ve exercised our free will? It could have been in the Grand Plan that nothing, not an iota of matter, could be willfully changed. Yet, we are able to change it.
Do we realize just how far that free will goes? And when we do reflect on what that means, do we take responsibility for how we’ve affected the Grand Plan? A plan that we did not create, but a God that loved us enough to include us in His plan…how have we affected it?
Ideas to ponder, don’t you think?
Monday, June 16, 2008
For the last two weeks, I’ve been out of my routine with pneumonia. It seems like every spring I come down with a bad cold or some other virus that makes me stop everything I’m doing and just “be”.
As I agonized over the fact that I hadn’t updated my blog, I tried to focus on what I might write. I researched the pneumonia “bug” and bronchitis. Was science and faith present in this? While it was all very interesting to me, it didn’t speak from my heart.
What kept coming back to me was my grandmother’s saying, “…its hell to grow old.” That spoke to me. But why?
It seems that every year I get this respiratory bug, it gets harder to kick it or it takes longer. I look in the mirror and I see the wrinkles that weren’t there twenty years ago (even ten, even five!). I take a step and I hear my “Velcro” knees and know the arthritis that’s getting worse will eventually keep me from doing some of the things that I love (if I don’t spring for the $20K per knee injections of my scientifically grown cartilage). I think of all the little aches and pains I didn’t use to have and think of my grandmother’s saying.
So why do we grow old? Scientifically, our cells have a lifespan determined by something at the end of our DNA called a telomere. Each time our cells divide, a little piece of that is lost, so that by the time we are old, our telomere is very short (read the following two websites for interesting information on the importance of telomeres: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/T/Telomeres.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telomere). It’s like a time clock or an hourglass that gives us a certain amount of time on earth.
Remember the cloned sheep, Dolly? She seemed perfectly normal when she was born, but she lived only a portion of a sheep’s lifespan. She grew old quicker than she should have. Scientists studied this (as poor Dolly suffered) to find out that every time they divided the cells to get another clone, they shortened that all-important telomere that led to Dolly’s lifespan. They also used a six-year-old ewe to get the DNA to clone Dolly, so that ewe’s lifespan was already cut in half. That meant double trouble for Dolly.
So why was the telomere created? Certainly, our Creator had a reason for such a device. Why are we allowed to wrinkle, creak, and lose our faculties?
For Christians, pride is considered the root for so many other sins including lust, sloth, gluttony, greed, wrath, and envy. Where does the root of pride live? In our bodies. Beauty, athletic abilities, bird song voices, steel minds that can think through any problem, all of these things come from the bodies that our Creator has given us. Many times we are swept away thinking that we can accomplish anything…given the time…and we rely on ourselves to do just that.
But over time, we lose our beauty, our athletic skill, our voices, our minds. Each time we lose a piece of one of those things (or think we will lose it); we are forced to remember that we are not here forever. We are forced to rely on God.
I grew up watching the show, “Family Affair” and loved the movie, “Parent Trap” (the original!). I thought Brian Keith was fabulous. So it hit hard when I heard he committed suicide. Why did he do it? He felt like he was of no use, he was losing the battle with age and cancer. He despaired. He couldn’t release his pride.
Many people wonder why it is such a bad thing to rely on themselves. “God helps those who help themselves”, right? (That is actually a quote from Benjamin Franklin, not the Bible as so many people think.)
Yes…and no. The more we rely on ourselves, the less we trust God. And when we lose our balance on the tight rope of time, no one can save us but God. That’s where pride comes in. Can we let go of the pride and allow God to catch us when we fall?
If we are full of ourselves, then we are not full of God. Our motivations, our understandings, our works will all be marred by the stain of pride, not faith. The pain of this truth is the pain we all must bear if we desire more from ourselves than this earthly life. In order to offer ourselves daily to God, we must give freely of ourselves.
So now, while my bones creak and my eyesight wanes, I have a better understanding of my grandmother’s saying. I also have a better understanding of God’s plan. I can’t make it to Him with the weight of pride on my back. I have to let it go. Therefore, I’ll sit here with my cough drops, my tissues and my water, and consider the ways I can release my pride. So when I’m feeling better, I can focus on God’s plan for me with regard to this earthly life.
Now go wash your hands so you don’t get sick from this transmission!