Thursday, June 22, 2006
In The Twilight Zone
5:45. a.m.: I wake up and the Sun had beat me up by half an hour.
This reminds me of Uranium City, some 300 miles further north than we are now. Our first night there in August of 1975 we were laying in bed. Our bedroom faced north and had a rather large window. As we waited for it to get dark so we could fall asleep, it got lighter! So much for that idea. (Tin foil on windows was common up there.)Until you see it, its hard to imagine the northern sky being lighter than the rest!
Back in Grande Prairie area, I did some research about the longest day (or should I say "shortest night") of the year. Sunset is at 10:39 p.m. and sunrise is at 5:14 a.m. It's that way for about a week. But it stays light a lot longer that that. So I compared us with Long Beach, California. (Most of us have been there in summer.)
In Long Beach, on this day, sunset is at 8:07 p.m. and sunrise is at 5:42 a.m. But then there is twilight. And I was surprized to discover there are three official levels of twilight. Civil twilight, when its still light outside after sunset, lasts about 30 minutes in Long Beach. Nautical twilight, when you can still see outlines of things, lasts another 35 minutes. And Astronomical twilight, when the sky is still illuminated, lasts another 40 minutes. (Technically, twilight is determined by how far the Sun is blew the horizon, in 6 degree increments. By 18 degrees the sky it totally dark.)
Back in Grande Prairie, we have an hour of civil twilight, about twice what Long Beach gets. But then it gets interesting, Nautical twilight lasts the rest of the night for about a month at this time of the year. Our street lights come on but we don't really need them on a clear night. And the sky stays light, especially to the north, throughout May, June and July!
What's going on. It's a part of God's great creation. This earth He made for us to live on is angled on its axis about 23 degrees. So in the summer, when its tilted toward the Sun, we get longer days. Because of the curvature of the earth, and the fact that further north the Sun goes down at a greater angle, the farther north you go, the longer the day, but even longer the twilight. I like to think that the Sun in playing "hide and seek" with us, and is still peaking over the north pole at us at midnight.
When my grandfather left New Mexico 96 years ago, his goal was this area. But he only made it as far as central Alberta. I think that was a good thing, because even there, my Dad said, Grandpa never got used to the longer days in summer and shorter days in winter.
To all my readers, enjoy the Sun wile you can!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Where Are We?
Faith and Science
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Recently I've been doing some studying on the topic of Intelligent Design. Until about six months ago, I did not even understand the term. I thought it was a politically correct term for creationism. Then at church, Mr. Steve Wilson, a Prof. at PRBI, taught a class on origins. This exposed me to some fresh material on the subject.
There are basically four views of how we got here.
1) Young earth creationism: that the universe, including us humans, was created during a six day period some 10 to 15,000 years ago.
2) Old earth creationism: that the universe and life, etc. were created over a much longer period of time. (Sometimes called "the day age theory" of creation.)
3) Evolution: that complex life, including us humans, evolved over millions of years from simple life forms, which evolved from chemicals on the earth, which evolved (along with the rest of the universe) out of the big bang, probably taking billions of years.
4) Intelligent Design: that the evidence of complexity, particularly in micro- biology and cosmology, points to a intelligent designer rather than gradual evolution.
My interest in origins began when I was in junior high school. Having been taught the Scriptures from a young age, I never questioned that I was created by God. And being an analytical thinker, I applied my education in the sciences to this belief.
So when a friend at school got into some discussions with me about evolution vs. creation, I started doing my homework. Actually it was both Ted and me, and we got a lot of books from places like Back to the Bible and studied up on the problems with evolution. In discussing these with our friend at school, he once replied: "I have to get some books on evolution." He was facing up to the challenge.
About that time, as I recall, our grade eight teacher referred to evolution as a fact. I did not have the confidence to challenge him on that point. But in grade ten I did. When I spoke up I glanced across the isle at a Christian girl in the class. Her look of support seemed to say to me: "Go for it, Ed!"
About this time I witness my first birth. It was of a calf that we had to help deliver. This new life was such an amazing thing to me that my first reaction was: "How could anyone think this all happened by chance?"
There are two lines of reasoning about the issue of origins. One is philosophical and the other is scientific. My frustration with the current debate is that the two basis of argument are used, by all sides, to sidestep the hard issues at stake.
For example, the evolutionist, instead of dealing scientifically with the challenges put forth by the intelligent designers, argues from his presupposition that all things must have a natural cause. Therefore, he concludes that intelligent design is unscientific. On the other hand, creationists (especially young earthers) sometimes sidestep the evidence by going to the Bible.
Now to the evidence! In recent months I have been fascinated by the complexity of God's creation. Oops, that's my presupposition! OK, by the complexity of things in our universe.
Did all of this come out of a "big bang?" Or should I say: "The Big Bang?" If it did, that explosion had to be extremely, extremely precise. How precise? Like hitting a bull's eye on earth by throwing a dart from outer space. And the bull's eye is the size of an atom! Otherwise the universe would either collapse or be blown to bits!
And the earth, to sustain life, has to meet some amazing requirements too. Its proximity to the sun, its very round orbit, the sun's size and stability, its position in the Milky Way, and even the composition of our galaxy are all necessary factors. For example, if there was a nearby star, its gravity would pull the earth into an oval orbit around the sun and we'd either freeze or roast, or both!
What about life? Well, evolutionists hoped to find that the living cell was quite simple. But its just the opposite! To give one example among many, the transportation system within the cell rivals that of Fed Ex. Then there's the clotting process, and the immune system, repair and maintenance, waste disposal, and the list goes on. Way too complex to happen by chance.
Did I mention DNA? Our DNA molecule is six feet long, and is curled up in every cell of our body. By simply using four amino acids in different sequences (like letters) that one molecule spells out everything about my biological makeup from my dark hair to my inability to sing.
That's just the tip of the scientific iceberg. I've found this study most enlightening. And I recommend two books to you. "Darwin's Black Box," by Michael Behe, is about the complexity of the cell. And in "The Case For A Creator," Lee Strobel interviews scientists and philosophers from various disciplines. Fascinating reading.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 149: 13-16
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Where were we going? To a very special men's conference in the middle of Calgary. Friday morning five of us men hoped into a mini-van, shared gas expenses, food, and "man" stories about farming and logging, cars and motorcycles, hockey and houses, for eight hours. Well, I opted out for an hour or so and had a power nap in the back seat.
In Calgary, 2300 men filled a large church building and listened to John Eldredge and his "Wild at Heart" team of several men talk about the kind of men God created us to be. They made excellent use of Video trailers of popular movies like "Braveheart" and "Lord of the Rings" and their own personal testimonies to explain their teaching.
In a nutshell, every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. But our hearts have been lost (to a greater or lesser degree) by devistating experiences like having an abusive father or being driven to perform by what other have said about us. But God wants to restore our hearts. And He did. In many ways.
It was also great to connect with several other men I'd know from other places and to fellowship with the ones I'd traveled with. We overnighted in the home of a family that had recently moved from here to Calgary. Sleeping on the basement floor with six other guys was a little bit like camping in the Yukon, but without the bugs!
The ride home was probably the best part. The three of us in the back seats shared what we got out of the conference which amounted to each us us telling our life story and how God has been and is continuing to be setting us free. Some of those stories are almost unbelievable. But in all cases when we cry out to God, He heals our hearts and moves us forward into a freer and closer walk with Him. A walk in which we can truly be "Wild at Heart!"