Wednesday, October 9, 2019

What Makes You an Interesting Person?

"So, what makes you and interesting person?" This is a question that I have been asking people on occasion when I first meet them. This question, although often eliciting the stammering response, "Oh, there is nothing interesting about me," has been a means of quickly opening up deeper levels of conversation with people. One thing, that is almost universally true, is that people like to talk about themselves if you give them even the glimmer of a chance. This question often provides that opening.

The other day, at the dermatologist office, was just another example of this happening. The nurse, who took me into the room, handed me a gown, and told me to remove my outer clothes, seemed somewhat awkward -- not very self assured. But she was excellent at what she did. She even noted that I had put the wrong birthdate on my admittance sheet. After the examination, when she finished giving me the final exit instructions and I popped the question. "So, what makes you an interesting person?"

Her eyes pivoted suspiciously to look directly at me and I thought she might be offended. But instead, she softened and said, "I feel like I am different. I don't feel like I usually fit in."

Her answer surprised me with its frankness and self-exposure. Generally people will respond with some positive trait, something they like about themselves. So this answer set me back on my heels a bit. I could see by her expression that she was being quite genuine in her response and I realized it merited a genuine response from me. Fortunately, God had been talking to me through the scripture in Genesis about diversity -- about people being different. I told her that we are in fact all different, but that that is the way God made us. In fact, He must ascribe great value to being different. God started his creative process by accentuating differences. That is why he started with a male and a female -- two, quite different renditions of the human being. By starting with two different entities in the reproductive process, it guaranteed that their off-spring would themselves be different from their mother and father. And yet God said that it was good! Therefore, she should appreciate her differences as blessed by God rather than to be confounded by them.

As I led her down this path, her face seemed to soften and a smile crossed her lips. She said that no one had ever talked to her like that before. What surprised me farther was that she seemed like such a pleasant lady and it was rather late in her life to be dealing with such deep-seated self-esteem issues. We parted, knowing that both of us had been blessed by the conversation.

If you consider using this question, be prepared to go places that you might never had gone otherwise. The human soul is a treasure house of gems ready to be mined for those who have a sincere interest in learning about others. Happy prospecting!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Is God Your Personal Trainer?

The Pope, at the beginning of June, 2019, commented on the change to the Lord's prayer being suggested by the French. They had concluded that the wording used in the Lord's prayer is incorrect and so it will be updated to reflect the correct theological context. The wording will say, "Do not let us fall into temptation" rather than "lead us not into temptation." They reference Bible passages like James 1:13-14 and elsewhere that say that God does not do the tempting. Our pastor, however,  noted that this change seems to relegate God to some "Cosmic Spotter" who is standing by to catch us if we happen to stumble. Going a bit farther with that analogy, I thought about my one co-worker who has worked in the past as a personal work-out trainer. Certainly, in that role, he did stand beside the person lifting the weights to catch them if they fell and prevent the trainee from being hurt. But relegating him to only that position, really denigrates his role in that person's life. He was the one setting the path for the person and leading them in their training efforts. He was not primarily there to "keep them from falling." 

If I am 30 feet up the side of a rock wall climb, I am certainly happy to know that there is an interested trainer belaying me on a safety line. But if I am up there in the first place, it is not to enjoy the feeling of being belayed. It is to strengthen my ability to withstand the perils that accompany scaling that wall. As our pastor correctly noted, this passage in the Lord's prayer is more directly connected to leading us on paths of righteousness rather than protecting us from falling

Even so, don't expect to find me dangling from some rock wall in the near future! I have never suffered from the temptation to achieve on that growth path in life! 

Making a Bad Situation Worse

I recently spent some time at the Writers Conference at The Dock Academy near Philadelphia and was looking back over some old notes of previous conferences. I couldn't help but remember the time that going to the conference in Denver provided an opportunity to spend some nights at the home of Deb Rainey, an acclaimed women's writer. What a delightful time that was! I still see new Deb Rainey books sitting by my wife's reading spot. She really appreciates her work. I remembered her magic formula for putting together a storyline -- come up with a bad situation and then make it worse! Someday her fertile mind with be unable to imagine how to make things worse! Fortunately, the cable news networks have taken up that post and have relieved her of that responsibility!

But talking about bad situations that can hardly be made more bleak. I was thinking about the situation that God put himself in when he determined that he wanted to do some creating. As I was flying up the Eastern coastline the other day, returning from Florida, I watched the sun poke its way above the thin, red line of the horizon. I stared at its emerging brilliance and remembered that what it was engaged in doing day-after-day was forging new elements -- carbon, oxygen, and iron -- out of the primordial hydrogen and helium. Its size determines that it will eventually use up all of its fuel and shrink into a white dwarf. (Not to worry; not in my lifetime!) But its much larger cousin stars would suffer a different fate -- fusing into an iron core and then collapsing into a neutron star, bursting apart in a massively energetic collapse that we call a supernova. These explosions would seed the universe with all the elements of the periodic table. Gravity would eventually pull those elements back together into asteroids and planetoids. And now imagine God, some years later, looking down at one particular conglomeration of those elements, a boiling, bubbling planetoid that we call earth and thinking, "All I really wanted out of this creation is something with which I can have uncoerced fellowship! Instead my creativity has produced an 8,000 mile diameter blob of molten magma!" I don't think it could get any more bleak than that! Fortunately, his unrestrained creativity was able to add some pixie dust like life and spirit to that formless blob and -- well you know the rest of the story! It's now something that we can ponder and write about!

It's one thing for a potter to sit down at his wheel and figure out how they are going to fashion an elegant vase out of a lump of clay. It would be quite another thing if they first had to figure out how to grind up a granite boulder to make that lump of clay. Or worse, how to create the constituents of granite in the first place!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Unreality of Reality

Earlier this month I was sitting on the right side of an airplane cruising at 30,000 feet up the Eastern shoreline of the USA, flying from Jacksonville to Philadelphia. It was 6:30 in the morning and the Eastern horizon was coming alive with a red glow as the sun appeared to rise out of its watery depths and slowly pan its way across the sky. At least that seems to be the reality of the sun’s movement when one is standing firmly rooted to the earth’s surface. But sitting at this height, and being able to see the gentle curvature of the earth to the north and the south, it was easier to imagine that I was, in fact, on a spinning ball, and that the sun was not rising out of the ocean depths or flying through our skies. It was just that the slow rotation of this ball made the sun become visible from my vantage point and made it appear to traverse the sky and hide some hours later behind the Western horizon. As that true reality found an anchor within my mind, another reality began to form. Somehow it is the press of gravity, that made this glowing ball we call the sun exist in the first place. It was the inexorable squeezing of primordial hydrogen and helium into such tight confinement that these elements had no choice but to fuse together and ignite into a massive fusion explosion. And it is also that gravity that kept that explosion from blowing itself apart and made it appear instead as a glowing ball hanging there in space, 93 million miles away -- a blinding orb of light. Within that ball, two of the most misunderstood basic laws of the universe, light and gravity, were interacting, to bring everything, including the aluminum fuselage I was housed within and the glass window through which I was peering, into existence.

Looking downward I could see the ground, the seashore and the oceans and realize that every piece of that matter is composed of a vast diversity of atoms that came into existence within the confines of one of those solar furnaces. And each of those atoms broke forth from the interstellar crush of gravity only under the explosive power of a huge star as it ended its life in a supernova.

Yet those atoms, freed from the intense gravitational pressure at the center of a star, were not free of gravity's formative work. Instead, they spewed outward from the dying neutron star, herded together into gigantic plumes by the electrical fields set up by the speeding, charged particles. And then gravity again worked its magic by pulling them together into larger and larger conglomerate bodies.

One of those bodies had the good fortune to contain a mixture of almost all the element that could possibly exist in the periodic table of elements. And it was a good thing that such a plethora of parts was available because this was to be a very special planetoid. It was big enough to have sufficient inward crush to cause the radioactive elements at its core to maintain themselves in a molten state. This internal, bubbling mass mixed and roiled the surrounding envelope which cooled and solidified into a cracked, floating crust like the slang on top of a crucible of iron. It broke into massive crustal plates that jostled each other at their edges. When they crashed together, their densities determined which would slide over the top and which would be cast down into the molten abyss below. Those cast down carried with them the wonderful elixir, water, which has the magical property of hydraulic expansion when cooled and of an explosive transition into steam when boiled. This explosion of steam could not be contained by the weight of the overbearing crustal plates and resulted in volcanos erupting onto the surface, carrying the molten magma of the core with it. At the same time, the colliding plates that had floated upward were cracked and crazed into dizzying mountain ranges like the Himalayans or the Andes. Lying buried within this distorted landscape were incredible veins and pockets of all those elements forged within the stars. The tectonic plate motion provided both the bearing of diverse elements from below, and the piling it up from above. But the resulting landforms could not remain static due to the presence of that previously mentioned elixir, water! Now it was going to exhibit yet another of its vast, magical characteristics and work with gravity and heat to sculpt the landscape in the most interesting ways.

The temperature on the surface of this planetoid was such that water could exist in any of its three states -- solid, liquid or gas -- depending on the temperature and pressure it was subjected to. This amazing coincidence meant that water would constantly be lifted from the low-energy reservoirs of the oceans and lakes and be cast adrift in the skies where it could circle the globe in its gaseous form, only to condense into clouds which then released the water droplets as rain. Albeit, now the water had been given additional energy by virtue of its elevation as it landed upon the folds of the crustal plates and volcanic slopes. Again, gravity acted upon these free-flowing molecules to cause them to find a downhill slope to cascade across. As they flowed, they eroded the landscape, exposing the underlying rocks. If they did get trapped in the crevices, they would lie in wait for a cold spell when they would undergo another phase change into ice, expanding as they froze, cracking and splintering the encasing rocks. These combined actions, along with glaciers and wind, sculpted the tectonic landscape into mountains and valleys. The eroded material was carried downstream and deposited into the bottoms of lakes and oceans. There it piled up and the crush of gravity now turned it into hardened, sedimentary rocks. These rock layers in turn would be crushed and thrust skyward as the tectonic plates continued their sliding and grinding of the floating landmasses.

And so, the world, slipping away below the wings of that speeding jetliner, had slowly been transformed into a habitation worthy of God’s second act of creation; LIFE! But the awe-inspiring beauty of this first act of creation – the making of this water-saturated, rocky cauldron of minerals that we call earth – is that he did it simply by imparting energy from his hands into the Deep, causing it to vibrate with light, allowing that light to condense into matter, and acting upon that matter with gravity. And now, eons later, the products of that elegant combination of forces could provide me with an airplane, a seat and a window through which to gaze upon that most magnificent of creations.

And oh, if you were waiting to see how I was going to explain how the second act of creation, LIFE, happened, you may need to wait until I can arrange a long meeting with God and take up that question with the Creator. It seems that the mystery of where life came from will forever elude the understanding of mortal man. But as one can see from this short discussion of where matter came from, understanding can only increase the wonder and awe surrounding the Creator God rather than diminishing it. And remember. There remains the third act of creation – SPIRIT. We have a very long way to go to understand how God did all of this. Thankfully, He also created one other important element – ETERNITY! Without that, we would never have enough time to appreciate all that God did to create the one thing He has always wanted – uncoerced FELLOWSHIP with mankind!

Note: for those interested in a much more scientific discussion of the life of the stars, I highly recommend the Great Courses series, "The Life and Death of Stars" by Keivan G. Stassun, available on Audible.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Inexpressible Joy

"I was within 10 feet of John Kerry!" boasted my co-worker as we rode home from work. It turns out that years ago, Kerry, who is married to one of the members of the Heinz catsup family, was frequenting the same Galena Lodge in Idahoe where my friend was eating. No words or recognition passed between them, but the memory of that encounter stuck in my friend's mind for all of these years. 

The words that he shared struck me the following morning as our men's group was studying the first book of Peter. In verse 8 Peter says:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I had to think that if my friend could retain  that indelible memory of joy from sharing that brief experience in the presence of John Kerry, how much more inexpressible and glorious joy must Peter have captured in his heart after spending years within Jesus' chosen, inner circle. How could words ever express the yearning that he was trying to share in these short letters to the others whose hearts he wanted to set on fire with the joy of knowing salvation through trusting in Jesus? It's almost an "I'm going to grab you and shake you until you understand the wonder of this salvation" kind of evangelism! He is trying to ignite an explosion of joy in their lives.

Light, Life and Love: The Spongebob Theory

If you have read my previous posting,,
you will find my rather unusual take on the Creation story in the first book of Genesis. As I thought about that, I was taken with yet another way of understanding God's creation. I see God as having had three big, creative moments in creating the world as we know it. He created three things which are the basic building blocks of our world. None of these building blocks could have occurred without the divine hand of God stepping into creation. But within those three building blocks existed creative designs that, once created, they could spawn more and more wonderful creations.

To simplify this discussion, let's label these three major epochs of creation, Light, Life, and Love. To get from the nothingness that existed before creation to the stuff of matter, atoms, gases compounds, and minerals, one needed a major act of creation. Most of this discussion will be about that aspect because it is the only one simple enough to even try build an understanding about. But once there was matter, there was no reason to believe that out of matter could come life. And once there was life, there was no reason to surmise that life could be endued with spirit or Love.

Let's first consider matter; atoms and the stuff made of atoms - basically everything in the material world. How did the stuff of the universe come into being? How did so much exquisite order condense out of something as chaotic as the Big Bang? To understand where this order originated, it is necessary to find out what existed before the Big Bang. That is, of course, a bit of a problem since that means getting back before even time existed. So there is very little hope in doing that! Except that -- there is one source for that information. The words that come from the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 8:27 "When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the deep."

Imagine that before the universe was created that there was a huge block of foam rubber, the "face of the deep" filling all of everything. Think of this foam rubber as a huge volume of interconnecting springs with the space between these springs being totally empty space. It is this block of foam upon which God sets his compass and cuts out this giant sphere. This cut-out sphere, like a giant nerf ball, is then held in the hands of God. Genesis 1 says that He moved upon this sphere of the deep. He packed  energy into it as He compressed it within his hands until it was only the size of a grain of wheat. And then he left it go! Immediately, as it says in Genesis 1:1, there was Light. Light was the first thing to emerge within this expanding nerf ball. Think of light as the vibrations of those little springs that make up the ball. We talk of light waves because light behaves like a wave, vibrating up and down. And these vibrations move through the nerf ball like water waves move across the surface of the water. The speed of the ocean wave is controlled by the springiness of the water and its fluidity. In a similar fashion, the vibration of the springs moves through the nerf ball at a speed that is controlled by the elasticity of the springs. This speed is the speed of light; everywhere constant within this nerf ball.

At the very beginning of this period of expansion that began when God released that tiny, compacted ball of nerf, the springs were so densely packed together that there was no room for these vibrations of light to propagate outward. Instead these photons of light started to pair up and circle one another. Photons doing this allowed the entire expanding mass to exist at a lower energy content. These circling pairs, these perturbations, are what you and I regard as matter - the basic hydrogens atoms of the universe. It is no wonder that the equation E=MC2 has a speed of light squared term in it. Matter is composed of light and therefore would naturally have a term in it that would relate to the speed of its components. But this matter, these little circling photons, caused perturbations in the uniformity of the nerf. The action of the rest of the volume was to push these perturbations closer together into little clusters. Much like oil dropped into water will feel a push from the water molecules and begin to clump together, these atoms of hydrogen started to get pushed tightly together into bigger clumps. This push is what we call gravity. It is the action of the surface tension of the nerf. It is not a pull like the commonly used idea of the "pull of gravity". And since the springs of the nerf underlie the structure of everything, this surface tension force can never be blocked by any of the substance of the universe.

Let's stop a moment and let me create an analogy to make sure that I have not lost the reader at this critical juncture. Imagine that you are at the beach and you see the curl of a wave. This curl in the water is a result of the accumulated physical properties of the molecules of the water that makes up the curl and the particular energies that are present in that part of the body of water. The curl could not exist if it was not for the water. So don't spend your time wandering around Kansas looking for the curls of a wave. Curls can only exist where there is water. And matter can only exist where there is nerf. So, for example, light and matter can not exist outside the boundaries of the expanding nerf ball. Once you get to the region of the preexisting volume of the heavens that are beyond the expanding nerf, the void left where God cut out the sphere and then compressed it, you are in a truly empty region of the heavens. Light can not exist there because there are no springs in the region, just as there is no ocean in Kansas to create the curls of a wave! The curl of the wave is a macro manifestation of the water made up of the much, much smaller molecules of the water. And so these rotating perturbations are macro manifestations of the nerf, formed out of the much, much smaller vibrating springs of the nerf.

Now you can also distill another aspect of this matter, these co-rotating photons of light. We know that when something travels at near the speed of light, time slows down. And when something travels at the speed of light, time stands still! So now it is reasonable to deduct that these perturbations of the nerf, these little hunks of matter, are made up of something that is ageless. Hence it is reasonable to understand that, just as your physics teacher always said, matter can not be destroyed - only changed. Matter is eternal because it is made up of light!

Not all of the photons of light that were bouncing madly around at the small radius of the nascent universe paired up and formed matter. Some just went flying off and hit the edge of the nerf ball. They could not go beyond, just like a wave can never make it to Kansas. So it had to bounce back toward the center again. This is how we can attribute the presence of the Uniform Background Radiation - that uniform glow of light coming back at us from every direction that we choose to direct our telescopes.

This condensing of the madly vibrating springs into paired, circular orbits also explains another phenomena of matter. It has so much energy contained within it! The fact that the energy is coming from photons moving at the speed of light around in tight little circles shows why there is a C squared term in the E=MC2 equation. Just as for the riders on a merry-go-round, the circular velocity of the ride gives rise to a squared term in the energy content of the spinning mass, so the spinning photos speed of light velocity gives a term that is the speed of light squared - an almost unimaginably large term. Sort of like the amount of energy given off when you split an atom in an atomic bomb. So now you can see where so much of the energy of the work of compression of the nerf got locked up -- within the very stuff of matter.

But this condensing of the photons into particles of matter came to an end when the expanding nerf reached a certain diameter. There was finally enough room for the unattached photons to fly around without coupling together. But now another phenomena began to happen. The surface tension, alluded to above, started to push these particles of matter into larger and larger clumps. The more the nerf could get the matter to clump together, the lower the disturbance to the volume of the nerf. So now, these atoms of hydrogen started to get compressed into stellar masses - brightly burning stars. As more and more atoms kept getting compressed together, these individual atoms started to fuse together in fusion reactions, resulting in the building up a heavier elements. Eventually, these stellar masses would undergo a supernova explosion where the entire star would catastrophically explode an scatter these heavier element it the environs around. There first generation stars would explode once they had fused elements up to carbon and oxygen.

The debris from these supernovas would then undergo another gathering together in an accretion disc until enough elements were swept together to cause a second generation star to form. Again fusing of elements took place until iron was reached at which point the star would again go supernova spreading its fused elements across the expanding universe. Third generation stars grew out of this debris. In this case, the elements formed were often radioactive, very heavy elements that were just roughly shoved together. The universe had to be as big as it is in order for us to have cell phones that often demand the presence of these heavy elements for their functionality.

In one of these regions of the expanding universe, around one of these second generation stars that we today fondly call our Sun, an accretion disc of discarded elements for first, second and third generation supernova fragments was formed. The elements on this particular accretion disc welded themselves together into a grouping of planets, one of which had just the right combination of land, water, atmosphere and solar radiation to provide suitable living quarters for...well, for what? There is nothing that the physics of this rocky outpost of material spinning around in the far reaches of the Milky Way could have done to make itself into anything more than just a rocky outpost. It was now time for the Creator to again step into history and introduce something composed of the elements of this previous creation but more complicated than anything ever to come before. It was called DNA. This is what I call the "Second Act of Creation." The bringing of life to lifeless minerals. A creation within creation that was far more spectacular than anything the physical system could ever have generated.

It is not within the scope of this present discussion to take up the wonder of this second act of creation. My favorite author, Bill Bryson, at this point in the discussion in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything, makes a leap of faith that could have carried him across the breadth of the Grand Canyon! He says that, "Whatever prompted life to begin, it happened just once. That is the most extraordinary fact in biology, perhaps the most extraordinary fact we know. Everything that has ever lived, plant or animal, dates its beginnings from the same primordial twitch. At some point in an unimaginably distant past some little bag of chemicals fidgeted to life. It absorbed some nutrients, gently pulsed, had a brief existence. This much may have happened before, perhaps many times. But this ancestral packet did something additional and extraordinary: it cleaved itself and produced an heir. A tiny bundle of genetic material passed from one living entity to another, and has never stopped moving since. It was the moment of creation for us all. Biologists sometimes call it the Big Birth."

Sorry, Bill, but that little bag of elements that "fidgeted to life" presumes some extraordinary force that stepped into history and created the first "simple" cell equipped with a "simple" strand of DNA. There is absolutely nothing simple about either of these things, but you lack the journalistic fortitude to call it what it is -- an act of GOD! It was done by the same God that did the squashing down of that original nerf ball cut by His compass from the Deep! But some of the lack of journalistic honesty was restored when later in Bill's book he admits that, "Ironically, considering that Darwin called his book On the Origin of Species, the one thing he couldn’t explain was how species originated."

But let me back up at this point and put a little more flesh on the bones of this idea that there is this huge, springy nerf-like substance that pervades the entire universe. The very idea of the existence of this substance has been the very much espoused by all early physicists, including Einstein. They called it the Luminescent Ether. This ether was what it was that vibrated up and down as light waves moved through it and which regulated the speed of light in the universe. But the very idea of this ether was discredited by the scientific work of Michelson and Morley whose experimentation showed that the speed of light was the same in all directions, in all seasons. This meant that there was no "ether drift" and therefore no ether. However, its presence and existence is back in vogue again with the talk of the "dark energy" of space and ideas like String Theory. And since the springs of the nerf ball, my analogy of the structure of the ether, are essential to the whole proposition that I am laying out here, it becomes necessary for me to point out where Michelson and Morley made their mistake in their measurements.

What these scientists did was to carefully measure the speed of light coming from the sun at two exactly opposite positions of the earth in its rotation around the sun. This guaranteed that the earth would be going in two different directions relative to any body of ether that they were lying within. Like the doppler effect for sound when a train is moving toward or away from you, they were looking for a doppler effect on the speed of light due to the shortening or lengthening of the wavelength if the light was plowing into the ether or moving along with it. There was no doppler effect seen; therefore the conclusion was that there is no ether. What I would point out, is that in my formulation of matter above, one can see that there is nothing solid and rigid like a measuring stick. All matter is actually embedded in and supported by the ether. So the measuring stick, made of ether and moving through the ether, is foreshortened by the same decree as the light wave is foreshortened. So no change in the speed could be measured.

And while you are thinking of this illustration, let me draw you mind to a similar illustration. Imagine that Isaac Newton had been a fish! A scientific fish who did all of his experiments inside of his watery laboratory. Tell me, would Newton the Fish have discovered the same laws of physics in his underwater laboratory as in his normal lab? After a moment of reflection you will have to admit that of course he would have. The laws of physics apply everywhere in the Newtonian Universe. However, there would be other terms that might enter into the equations; terms such as buoyancy and viscosity. But after adding these terms in, one would see that dropping a rock in water follows the same laws as above water. But if Newton, being a fish and not even realizing that there was a substance called water, would totally ignore water's effect, really weird things would seem to be happening. Dropping a block of wood would see it rise upward rather than falling downward! Weird things happen if he would ignore the underlying environment.

And the same kind of weirdisms happen in the Newtonian Universe if we ignore the ether. For example, at very small distances -- distances that are smaller than spacing of the springs in the nerf ball, the normal physics of light breaks down. Light needs a spring to travel along. So distances smaller than the spring spacing give rise to the weird properties of quantum physics. And at very large distances, at points that would lie outside of the expanding nerf ball, no springs are available to carry light and again quantum physics must be employed.

But you might wonder what ever got me thinking of a universe underlain with springy nerf in the first place. For full disclosure, I must say that this intriguing idea came from a man who spoke at our church about 25 years ago. He was an electrical engineer and a quasi-physicist. The ideas that he was laying out made my brain go numb within about 15 minutes. But the seed of the idea that he planted there has continued to grow. And as I read more and more about new scientific understanding, especially about cosmology and the physics of the universe, the ideas that were coming together in my head were being constantly bolstered by newer understanding like Sting Theory. What I was able to bring to the table, hopefully, was a way of simplifying complex ideas so that they were understandable by the non-physicist.

My attempt to do this has always been to use simple analogies. My starting analogy was this. Imagine that you are flying a 747 at 35,000 feet over the Himalaya Mountains and again over the wheat fields of Kansas. How much different would the plane fly in those environments? The answer is that they would fly basically the same, at least if the temperatures of the air was the same, because the air at 35,000 feet has the same properties of pressure, density and viscosity all over the world. So when I asked myself the question, "Why is the speed of light constant everywhere in the universe?" the answer seemed to fall out from the same proposition: there is some underlying substance that is controlling the speed of the light propagation that is everywhere present and the same throughout the universe. This is indeed the same kind of thinking that got people thinking about an underlying luminescent ether in the first place back in the 1800's.

The idea of the this ether being the same as the "Deep" talked about in Proverbs was an interesting insight. That there was indeed order present in the springy arrangement of the nerf ball prior to the creation event gave a way of understanding where all the intricate order of that came out of the "Big Bang" came from. How was it possible that all of this order could fall out of a big explosion? That was a question that had always bothered me. But in this formulation, one can see how all of this came together. The order existed in the Deep win the orderly arrangement of the springs. The Deep was energized by the hands of God. The creation of light happened when God released his hands. There was not a Big Bang. There was a Big Expansion. And that expansion will continue until the Deep, the nerf ball, hits the rest of the Deep that it was cut from. At that point, like the joining of two oceans, light from inside our universe can flow into the surrounding heavens like wave passing from one ocean into another.

This way of viewing the universe also helped me to solve one of the key quandaries of physics. How can one propose a theory that unites all of the forces in the universe together. In particular, how does one explain how gravity relates to the speed of light? And what exactly is gravity? In the formulation given here, the speed of light is controlled by the springiness of the springs, Planck's constant is the spacing of the springs of the nerf, and gravity is the surface tension of the entirety of the springy volume attempting to minimize its energy content. The observed expansion of the universe is just the nerf moving outward to return to its uncompressed volume. The cosmic background radiation is the bouncing of the primordial light back from having reached the far surfaces of the expanding nerf. Matter is eternal since it is composed of light. Matter releases tremendous energy when its spinning photons are split apart. And the overall physics of the nerf caused the condensation of matter into it at small radii and the stars did the work to modify that matter into higher orders of matter.

And right there in the middle of all of this creation stands the God who knew that if He were only to apply the tremendous energy of compression, that a beautiful universe of purpose would result. And in one small corner of that universe, he would come back and instill life as His second act of creation. And then He would chose one of the supreme creatures that life would bring forth, and infuse that creature with Love, the third act of creation! A love for the God who had made it all happen and a love for learning that would allow that creature to try, in a desperate pursuit of understanding, to see how that God could have made it all happen in the first place! And by also dropping the "owners manual," the Bible, into the mix, to allows mankind to know why He made it happen in the first place. All-in-all, an interesting way to view the world and our place in it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Christ Quake: The Rocks Cry Out

As Jesus entered Jerusalem on what was to be called the “triumphal entry”, the people were shouting his praises in the streets. Jesus told those who were trying to quiet the ruckus that if the people failed to shout his praises, the rocks themselves would cry out. 

In their brand-new film, The Christ Quake, Vidano Films shows just how the rocks today are crying out even as people have largely fallen silent. Providentially, built into the landscape, a mere 18 miles from Jerusalem is the deepest hole on the face of the earth. Nestled 1000 feet below sea level at the bottom of this hole is the Dead Sea. Holes that are lower than sea level have this tendency to fill up with water. And indeed, the Dead Sea valley has seen the water run-off from the surrounding land filling it for the past eons. The silt and debris that accompany this influx of water get laid down in light and dark layers each year on the bottom of the lake. This acts as a giant historical recording device that allows the progression of years to be counted like one would count the rings in a tree. 

But the interesting thing is, that seismic events, earthquakes, disturb the sediments in highly recognizable ways. When earthquakes occur, the waters of the sea are roiled back and forth and create a very unusual layer of sediment between the other normal layers. If one could date these seismic layers, could one find a layer that might correspond to the seismic event that occurred in Jerusalem at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross, as recorded in Matthew 27:51? That is what Frederick Larson travels to the Dead Sea to find out. The fact that he made a movie of his findings may give one a clue as whether he answered that question!

These two videos by Vidano Films, The Bethlehem Star and now the Christ Quake, give a whole new meaning to the phrase “in the fullness of time, Christ came.” When God set the stars in motion at the beginning of time, and when he set the courses of the Tectonic Plates, he foresaw the cosmic and geological events that he would use to mark the birth and the death of his beloved son. I think he also foresaw the sophistication of science and technology that would be required to pry these dramatic evidences from the places that they were hidden in clear view - from the heavens and from the Dead Sea cliffs. What a strong validation for the historicity of the Biblical narrative! For more information, go to