Why we are here:

Our signature Bible passage, the prologue to John's Gospel, tells us that Jesus (the Logos) is God and Creator and that He came in the flesh (sarx) to redeem His fallen, sin-cursed creation—and especially those He chose to believe in Him.

Here in Bios & Logos we have some fun examining small corners of the creation to show how great a Creator Jesus is—and our need for Him as Redeemer. Soli Deo Gloria.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Shrink-wrapped PETA

If all the shrink-wrapped PETA members in the world were laid end-to-end, it would be good to just leave them that way.

I realize that this subject is strikingly fresh (can you see the expiration dates on the PETA packages?) But I thought I should escape from Intelligent Design for a spell and comment on un-intelligent activities, like being shrink-wrapped and put on public display.

When I first saw this picture, my reaction was the usual, “What are these crazy people up to now?” Then I thought, “At least this is fairly harmless (except for the danger of suffocation) and less disgusting than splashing blood on fur-clad ladies or handing out leaflets to small children, telling them that their parents are murderers for roasting turkeys or going fishing.”

Then I decided to see if engaging in these embarrassing activities is all that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does as an organization. So I Googled and found their website http://www.peta.org/ —or I should say sites, for they have literally dozens. I was quite surprised to find out how big the organization is and how much they do, not only by way of silly and offensive demonstrations but also in more legitimate educational and legal persuits.

The PETA sites also gave me new insight into the extraordinary amount of animal cruelty that goes on in the world and in numerous industries, many of which we don’t or would rather not think of as animal abusers: food, entertainment, cosmetics, medical research, education and many more. I know that you would benefit from—and be shocked by--perusing PETA’s material.

Of course, PETA’s very evolutionary “we’re all relatives” philosophy makes them go way too far. Their descriptions of animal groups are precious. Fish, for example are portrayed as, “ smart, sensitive animals with their own unique personalities. They have excellent memories and can learn to avoid nets by watching other fish in their group and can recognize individual “shoal mates.” Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and some even use tools. Says marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle, “They’re so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they're wounded.” Enjoy more at: http://www.goveg.com/amazingAnimals.asp

PETA encourages people to be vegetarians, especially vegans, as even the dairy industry is rife with cruel practices, and “milk is for babies.” And that may be a good thing. The vegans I know look fairly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and make me look sicker than I actually am.

From a biblical viewpoint (the only one that really counts) flesh eating was permitted after Noah’s day because God’s curse on the ground had made it ever more difficult to get sufficient nourishment from the degraded plant kingdom. (See Gen 1:29-31 and 9:1-4 for the before and after commands.) But also see Paul’s warning against dietary and other prohibitions in I Tim 4:1-5--legalism kills grace!
The world offers an almost infinite variety of dietary advice, as a visit to the diet and cooking section of a book store will reveal—no meat, no dairy, no grain, high this, low that, no this, all that. Try these for varied titles:
The No-Grain Diet by Joseph Mercola (Was he also the author of that old song, "Get out of the wheat field, Nelly, you're running against the grain"?)
The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin (I don't think the Intelligent Designer designed this one. And it mostly likely excludes my favorite sandwich, the Rubin Grill.)
Kill It & Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Ted Nugent (I think Ted and Shemane look even more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than the vegans I've met.)
I guess there is no end to the making of diet books. Pick whatever suits your taste and doesn't kill you right away.

Well, we have wandered far and wide in this bloggeration. Now I should go and see if there are any PETA-approved tidbits in my cupboard for lunch—or maybe I'll find some sensitive, good-natured sardines.)

p.s. OK, I suppose I shouldn't make fun of all those special and varied diet plans that folks dream up. Some of them have probably been of great benefit to those who have the discipline to stick with them. It is true that our love for carbs has caused a pandemic of obesity and diabetes in this country, and maybe that no-grain diet may be a solution. So if you think you can do it, by God's grace, go to it.
The Maker's Diet is supposed to be biblically based (post-flood, because it includes meat) and it saved the author's life. It does get expensive, so I'm told, with all the supplements required, but it probably works for its stick-to-it-ers.
As for Ted and Shemane's program, they say that they haven't eaten store-bought meat in thirty years. If you live where you can hunt and have a yo-big freezer, and you can look those wonderful game animals in the eyes and shoot'em anyway--more power to you.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Am I defending Intelligent Design Theory?

In several recent posts I sound like I’m defending Intelligent Design Theory. In fact, I am and I am not. The situation is not as simple as an up or down vote in Congress (I suppose that’s a poor analogy.) It is both simpler and more complex than that.

My aim is to confuse, and I most likely have done that in a mere four sentences. But let’s try to figure this thing out. Such figuring is not easy in these days of hot debate and the throwing around of terms and the throwing up of dust. (But let me be clear: we won’t figure it out in one blog post—or if I should blog about the subject until the proverbial bovines return to their domicile.)

First, let’s make some distinctions. Intelligent Design Theory is not the same as Biblical Creationism. The ID theorists are trying (if the evolutionists, the press and the general public would let them) to approach their ideas as pure science. They are smart people and they know how to separate their science from their theology. (Whether that is a good thing or not I will discuss later.) Their main premises are that (1) living systems are too complex to have been produced by blind chance and natural selection, and (2) evidence of intelligence can be detected in the design of living systems. In their personal beliefs, supporters of ID are all over the map. Some are theistic evolutionists; some may be Biblical Creationists others, agnostics. Their religions range from Protestant to Roman Catholic to Unification Church to Judaism—and probably many others.

Biblical Creationists, on the other hand, openly admit to using God’s Word as the basis of their worldview and as their approach to science. In their operational (experimental) science—science in which repeatable experimentation and falsification are the rule—they operate under the belief that God created and sustains His universe by laws that can be discovered by science (thinking God’s thoughts after Him.) In studying prehistory, however, Biblical Creationists realize that different rules apply. The past is not subject to repeatable experimentation. Evidence (the same evidence that any scientist has available) must be interpreted according to un-provable (in the scientific sense) assumptions and philosophical (religious, if you prefer) presuppositions. This is where God’s Word must take precedence over purely naturalistic assumptions and must act as the guidebook for the interpretation of evidence.

People claiming to be Biblical Creationists also come in a variety of flavors, ranging from YECs (Young Earth Creationists,) OECs (Old Earth Creationists,) Theistic Evolutionists, Progressive Creationists, etc. Of course, I believe that only one of these flavors has any real taste--is consistent with the grammatical/historical interpretation of the Bible.

Bioman from Jersey proudly (or humbly) wears a YEC t-shirt and is blessed to be persecuted for his position (So there, now you know—and probably suspected) I believe that any other position severely compromises God’s Word and the gospel—in fact, God’s whole plan of salvation. And that is the last thing any Christian should be doing. I realize that sincere people hold to other positions, but I believe that sincerity, by itself, plus $2 will get you a ride on the NYC subway (unless the fare has gone up again.)

That brings us to my original question: am I defending Intelligent Design Theory? The answer now is the same as I started with—yes and no. I believe that, as far as it goes, ID is a legitimate scientific approach to the study of origins. While it is not strictly inductive and open to falsification, neither is any other study of the past, in spite of the claims of materialist scientists.

My gripe with ID is that it doesn’t go far enough. It refuses to openly identify and honor the Intelligent Designer and is therefore legitimately criticized by its opponents, including Charles Krauthammer, whom I blasted in a previous blog post. If the ID-ers are not willing to openly admit their theological position(s) they will continue to be lambasted by unbelieving critics as committers of subterfuge and fraud. Better to admit their theistic assumptions and be persecuted as fools (I Corinthians 1:27) That is not an easy thing for a scientist to do—it will cost him dearly. But that is what Christianity is all about, is it not?

The issues here are broader and deeper than I have stated and range from the definition of science to the really big issue: Who created, cursed, sustains—and soon will redeem the created universe? Let’s face it—there are believers and there are unbelievers, and He knows who they are. Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Stick to politics, Charles!

Charles Krauthammer, columnist for the Washington Post and contributor to the Fox News Network, is one of the more intelligent, politically savvy journalists in Washington. His conservative positions are strongly and eloquently stated, both in print and on air. But recently, in his newspaper column, he ventured away from Washington politics and into science and religion, revealing his ignorance and confusion concerning both.

The subject was—what else these days—the Intelligent Design court case just concluded in Pennsylvania. But he was aiming at a broader target: any thought that there is a conflict between “science”—especially evolution—and “religion.” He starts by saying that neither Newton nor Einstein saw any conflict with science and their particular views of deity, then proceeds to describe the God of the Bible as a “crude and willful God who pushes and pulls and does things according to whim.”

We’re beginning to see that Mr. Krauthammer’s theology is somewhat suspect. Now what about his science and his opinion of Intelligent Design theory? In the column’s headline he calls ID a fraud; in the column he calls it “today’s tarted-up—or warmed-over—version of creationism” and an “insult both to religion and to science.”

The 800-word slam continues with too many errors and misrepresentations concerning science, ID, creationism, the Dover PA and Kansas School Board situations and God to remark on here. But the final paragraph is a corker. This man is obviously passionately in love with goo-to-you evolution. Here it is, in full:

How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein?

Well, isn’t that precious (as the Church Lady used to say.) Here’s MY version:

How ridiculous to make evolution a friend of God. What could be more ugly, more chaotic, more unintelligent, more wasteful, more degrading, indeed more demonic than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, suffering for millions or billions of years with pain, disease, predation, parasitism, bloody competition and death, all ultimately derived from accumulated chance, purposeless variations in a double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to turn pond scum into mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein—and Krauthammer.

Perhaps Mr. Krauthammer hasn’t thought through the implications of his worldview, both the scientific and religious aspects—or perhaps there is a chip on his shoulder (as I surmise from the tone of the column,) a shoulder not far from an otherwise brilliant mind.

Let us pray for this man, that he may recognize his desperate need for the Savior.

“If you don’t understand Genesis 3, you don’t really understand anything.”

Monday, November 21, 2005

More on More Carbon Dioxide

As a follow-up on the blog about Carbon Dioxide being classified by New Jersey officials as a “contaminant,” I have just read an article in the Washington Post about a research project being done at Duke University. They have erected 100-foot towers in a grove of loblolly pines. The towers spew out CO2 and literally bathe the pine trees in the stuff. The researchers then collect data on growth rates and numbers of needles, cones and seeds the trees produce, compared to trees not treated with increased concentrations of CO2.

The results have been somewhat predictable (in fact, pumping CO2 into commercial greenhouses to increase growth is a common practice.) Since CO2 is the limiting factor in photosynthesis—that is, the factor that there is the least of (compared with light and water)—it would be predicted that adding more would allow more photosynthesis—and hence growth—to occur. And it logically follows that the more growth, the more reproduction, from seeds produced in cones.

All this sounds good for the loblollies. But, of course, that’s not the whole story. Ecology is never as simple as the observation of one event or one species. When we talk about the complexity of life, we are not just dealing with individual cells, organisms or species. Ecology deals with the interactions of organisms with each other and with their environment—the most complex and intricate system of interactions in the living—or non-living—universe. The biosphere of Planet Earth is so complex and varied that science has but begun to understand it at the most basic level. Ecology is in its infancy as a field of biology; that is what makes it so exciting.

That brings us back to the Duke researchers and their predictions about the ultimate results of increased atmospheric CO2. What will faster growing, faster reproducing pines mean for the ecosystem as a whole? Here is where it gets tricky. Loblollies are mixed in with slower-growing hardwoods, such as oaks and hickories, which will not likely benefit from increased CO2 as much as the naturally faster growing pines. That means that the pines could in time crowd out the hardwoods. So What? The problem is that other species—birds and mammals—depend on acorns and hickory nuts for food. So you see that altering one aspect of an ecosystem affects all others, in ways that may or may not be predictable.

That’s enough bio-talk for now—more to follow. But what is the moral of this story? The world would say, “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.” As believers in God as the creator of all things, including the biosphere and all creatures therein, we have a much different perspective: God made it very good; man messed it up with sin; God cursed the ground—yet sustains even His cursed creation, causing organisms to adapt to the fallen environment; we, by our actions, tend to mess things up even further, yet strive to obey God’s command to be good stewards—and that is another reason why my motto stands: “If you don’t understand Genesis 3, you don’t really understand anything!”

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stay in the woods, Teddy--It's no picnic out there!

In Monday’s blog, I was poking fun at a news headline that said that New Jersey “may ban bears in urban regions,” musing about whether posted signs would discourage the bruins from straying into city streets—or whether urban invaders would be shot on sight, without the benefit of Miranda warnings.

Turns out, it’s no laughing matter. There will be no signs, but there will also be no warnings. City—or even suburban—bears will be “euthanized” by police, according to a new state policy.

It seems that the former practice of tranquilizing strays and transporting them to state lands proved expensive and inconvenient—and did nothing to curb the growing population and dangerous encounters with people and property. But most local police departments hate the idea of shooting bears, both because of possible danger to residents and because they would probably rather deal with criminals than be wildlife “managers.” One local police chief was quoted as saying, "Why would we want to kill bears? Why not just relocate them? We're not going to go out and execute animals in front of people." And I think that many suburbanites, if they become aware of the new policy, may be reluctant to report a sighting, for fear of being responsible for ending the life of a bear.

In addition to this new “shoot on sight” policy, there will be bear hunts this year and for the next couple of years at least, unless conservation groups squawk loud enough—and they will squawk, as they always have, in the ongoing struggles among state officials, hunters and nature lovers.

The other developing story involves research into methods of bear birth control. There are several research studies in progress, at wild animal parks in New Jersey and elsewhere, but those projects are in their infancy.

So I am afraid there will be some ugly encounters in the next few months and years, between people and bears, police and bears, and people and people. And with more than 4000 New Jersey hunters having applied for bear permits, there will be no "Teddy Bear's Picnic" in the woods, much less in the cities and 'burbs.

If it hadn’t been for mankind’s fall into sin and the resultant curse, we’d be playing with our ursine friends instead of shooting them. My motto is always relevant: “If you don’t understand Genesis 3, you don’t really understand anything.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Anatomical Artistry at its Best

Would anyone like to identify the subject of this unusual but elegantly beautiful photograph? I’ll give you a clue: it’s the rear end of something. Dennis Kunkel makes stunning colorized scanning electron micrographs of just about anything under the sun, both animate and inanimate. Electron microscopes, because they use beams of electrons rather than light, can’t do color; but Dr. Kunkel colorizes them by a process that transforms them into works of art more than mere scientific data. See his work at: www.denniskunkel.com

With the invention of the electron microscope our knowledge of the complexity of living organisms, especially of the fine structure of individual cells, has exploded. Light microscopes are limited in their resolution by the length of the light waves. Anything smaller than a half wavelength of light is invisible to the light microscope. Electron microscopes, on the other hand, throw out beams of electrons hundreds of times closer together than the length of light waves. So they can “see” objects that are far smaller than can be resolved by visible light.

Most of the structures in a living cell are seen as specks or can’t be seen at all under the light microscope. In Darwin’s day, even a large cell looked like a blob of jelly with a few marbles and specks visible inside. I am convinced that Mr. Darwin, had he been able to see even one electron micrograph of the internal structure of a cell, would have been tempted—even forced by the clear evidence—to toss aside his theory of evolution by natural selection.

The Kunkel photograph is not of an individual cell, but of a complex--irreducibly complex--anatomical structure. Give up? OK, it’s the spinneret of a spider—the organ than makes and spins out silk. What a marvel of design (very intelligent design) it is. It can produce several kinds of silk, each for a different purpose: sticky silk for capturing prey; non-sticky for walking on without getting stuck. If this mechanism hadn’t been perfectly designed from the start, it would be a disaster, the tiny openings clogging, or the silk not drying at the correct rate, etc. etc. For more information about the incredible characteristics of spider silk and how it's made, go to: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v23/i2/webspinners.asp

So don't be deceived into believing that living things are not intelligently designed, down to the most minute detail, by the omnipotent, omniscient Creator of all things, the One who sent His Son to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ban Urban Bears?

A recent news headline read: “State may ban bears in urban regions—surging population stirs rising concern”

Questions immediately occurred to me: How? Put up signs? Shoot on Sight?

The content of the article offered no answers, but the thought of “banning” ursine mammals from our cities seems impractical. Just training them to read signs would cost millions; and certainly they would have to be read their Miranda rights before taking drastic action.

Seriously though, there is a problem. There are about 8.5 million people in New Jersey and 1600-3000 black bears, concentrated here in the northern region and to our west. And more and more frequently, the two species meet, not only in the woods, but also in back yards and even on decks and in kitchens. Encounters with people and property can be scary, dangerous and destructive. Imagine coming home to find a broken back door and something big and furry rummaging in your pantry—and it’s not your teenage son. Quite a few New Jersey citizens haven’t just imagined—it has happened to them.

War has been waged at times, not only between man and bear, but between government agencies and between wildlife management officials and humane groups, over whether to have a bear hunt to reduce the population. Would hunting kill mostly “innocent” bears rather than the ones who have caused trouble by being habituated on garbage and birdseed? Would reducing the numbers actually solve the bear “problem?” The debate has gone on for years.

In all my tramping through the fields and forests around here, I have never seen a bruin, but just in case, I have memorized all the advice given for surviving an encounter, including yelling and banging pots and pans together--and in the case of a close encounter, hitting the animal repeatedly on the nose. Trouble is, I keep forgetting to take pots and pans on my hikes. And I would rather not have to resort to swatting a bear's schnoz with my $3000 camera. Have you priced camera repair services lately?

Actually, bears are our friends. Before sin entered the world they were strict vegetarians, and even now stick mainly to fruits and other plant material in their diet. They also eat carrion, so they help to clean up dead things and curb disease. There is a problem with livestock and with occasional attacks on humans, but over all, the black bear is a beneficial species and one of God’s more intelligent creatures—more so than some newspaper headline writers (?) And the cubs are so cute and cuddly!

Soon, perhaps sooner than we think, the bear problem, as well as all other problems, will be solved--but only for true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ at His return. (Isaiah 11:6-9) (Rev. Chapters 21-22)

p.s. The Newark Bears are our local Minor League baseball team. Could that headline writer have been thinking of them? Nah!

Friday, November 11, 2005

...and Then I Turned to the Last Page

In yesterday’s post I got excited about an article in the latest issue of Scientific American, America’s premier popular science journal. The article about savant syndrome and the brain was very useful. Unfortunately, after glowing about that article, I made the mistake of turning to the last page of the magazine, where I was confronted by Steve Mirsky’s editorial piece entitled “The Trials of Life.” Right off I thought, “Here we go.” The word “trial” was a clue to where this thing was going. The sub-title read, "Because eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, we have to talk about Intelligent Design again, sorry."

Before launching into a bunch of misrepresentations of ID and the Dover, Pennsylvania ID trial, Mr. Mirsky proceeded to characterize creation science as “oxymoronic and just plain moronic, and ID as a subtle form of creationism that refuses to identify the designer, “but," he sardonically adds, "it rhymes with Todd.” He then makes a demeaning sexist remark comparing the bacterial flagellum ("a whippy little tail") to a couple of well-known Hollywood actresses.

Now I ask you, what is this very unscientific, sarcastic, insulting piece of non-literature doing in a supposedly respectable scientific journal?

Then I flipped over the page to its reverse side and witnessed an amazing bit of irony: the “Ask the Experts” column entitled, “How and why do fireflies light up?” Here, on the very same sheet of paper as the anti-ID rant is a description of one of the most obviously irreducibly complex pieces of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry in the animal kingdom. Firefly bioluminescence has been the subject of scores of research projects and journal articles over the past several decades, attempting to figure out the anatomy and chemistry of the phenomenon. And the more that is known, the more amazing it becomes. In fact the anatomy of these insects—in fact, any insect—is so complex, so unique, that some well-known scientist (Fred Hoyle, as I recall) declared that insects must have come from outer space—they couldn’t have evolved on Planet Earth.

Back to Mr. Mirsky’s subtitle: “Because eternal vigilance is the price of liberty…” What kind of liberty are we talking about? The liberty to demean and insult anyone who questions Darwinian orthodoxy, but not the liberty to mention, in a government school classroom, the idea that there just might be Someone whose name rhymes with “Todd”?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Fortuitous Split-Brain Find

My December issue of Scientific American arrived today and, much to my delight, it contains an article entitled, "Inside the Mind of a Savant." It features the rather famous savant, Kim Peek, now 54 years old. The reason for my interest involves a book that I have been TRYING to write for the last six years, one theme of which has to do with the pre-Fall mind of Adam. The thesis behind this is that, pre-Fall and pre-Curse, Adam's mental capacity would surely have been remarkably keener than that of our fallen, depraved, sin-infected minds. So I have been investigating (on and off) brain defects that seem to free up the brain to allow the subjects to do amazingly complex things and have extraordinary memories.

One new fact that was brought out in the article was that savants' brains often lack the corpus callosum, the thick band of tissue that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. That is the tissue that is severed in the so-called "split-brain" operation sometimes used to prevent seizures from spreading from one side of the brain to the other. The other interesting fact is that some "normal" people lack the corpus callosum--and their brains work just fine. This has fascinating implications for my research. Did Adam's brain have the corpus? Is the corpus a result of the Fall? I realize this is a far-out thought, but it is surely worth thinking about.

Another reason that this subject is so interesting is that I have been using the split-brain as an analogy for the relationship of science and religion. But I'll leave an analysis of that analogy for another bloggeration (I think I just coined a term there :-) In fact I just may change the name of my blog...

p.s. I just Googled for "bloggeration" and had several hits--so I guess I missed out on claiming ownership of a neologism. But I think I'll use it anyway.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't Drift From The Solas!

The photo to the left illustrates perfectly what happens when a church drifts away from or actively abandons the five solas of the gospel: that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on the merits of Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, and giving glory to God alone.

When a pattern of water stains under a bridge overpass is perceived to be an image of the virgin Mary, it is venerated and prayed to by thousands--an act of pure idolatry, or perhaps pure superstition, both of which are condemned by scripture. What false hope is generated when the truth of the God-breathed Bible is added to or subtracted from.

Only by adhering to the five "alones" do we have the sweet truth that we have a Savior who really saves, without the help of His earthly mother or the excess merit of her and some super-saints.

We should honor Mary for the saintly woman she was and for the eternally valuable service she performed in giving birth to the Savior, not because she can add anything to our salvation.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hi-tech Productivity?

I must say that having a modern high-powered computer that allows multi-tasking is a pleasure. Presently, I have a Real Player window open showing a webcam view of a sleeping panda cub, a web page on which I am reading James White’s response to Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code,” as well as this Word document with which to post this blog.

The panda just twitched, so I know he’s still alive (sometimes it’s hard to tell) and Dr. White is proceeding to demolish Mr. Brown’s fabrication of church history. Check it out at http://www.aomin.org/

The question is, “will this habit of multi-tasking actually improve my writing productivity?” Perhaps a #2 pencil and a scratch pad would serve better.

…and now for a Weather Bug update, an email check--and maybe a game of solitaire :-)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Don't Worry, My Photosynthetic Friends!

New Jersey Classifies Carbon Dioxide as Air Contaminant
Furthering New Jersey’s commitment to combat climate change, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey adopted regulations classifying carbon dioxide as an air contaminant. The new classification was announced October 18, 2005, and amends several air pollution control rules. This announcement facilitates the state’s engagement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which aims to stabilize and reduce carbon dioxide emissions across nine Northeastern states.

This remarkable statement reminds me of the old one about Dihydrogen Oxide being the major component of acid rain. Dihydrogen Oxide is, of course, water. Now what about Carbon Dioxide? It is a regular, albeit small (.04%) component of air. Classifying it as a contaminant seems odd, to put it mildly. After all, it is an absolutely vital component, upon which all life on Earth depends. It is one of the compounds that plants use to manufacture just about 100% of the world’s food supply, by the process of photosynthesis.

Now it is true that the percentage of CO2 is rising due to the burning of fossil fuels; and the increase is somewhat contributing to global warming (how much is a matter of great debate.) But referring to an absolutely essential substance as a contaminant is semantic foolishness. Every green plant must be shaking in its roots and wondering, “what are they trying to do to us?”

Don’t worry, my green friends, they won’t be “decontaminating” your atmosphere for a long time. I can assure you that much, with every breath I exhale, a breath rich in--Carbon Dioxide!

p.s. The photo: a portion of a skunk cabbage leaf. Click on the image to see a larger version. If you look closely, you may be able to see irregularities, which are individual cells. I like this photo so much that I use it as my Windows desktop wallpaper. And used thusly, the odor is barely noticeable :-)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

An Interesting Saturday Morning

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This morning, as I usually do on Saturday, I glanced through (online) the book review section of the New York Times to see what was on the non-fiction bestseller list. I read the first chapters (or as much as they give you) of several books on the list, including Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, about Lincoln’s cabinet, Jung Chang’s Mao: The Unknown Story and Charles C. Mann’s 1491, which, surprisingly, begins with Pilgrim/Indian relations in the 1620s. All three of these first chapter excerpts were attention grabbers and exemplified good historical writing, though somewhat different in style. And even these brief glimpses offered much insight into the historical periods represented. I should do more reading in history, even entire books, rather than merely free samples.

I also read ICR Daily devotional online. This one was particularly meaningful (actually, they are all very meaningful, as they are based on God’s Word) so I will preserve it here:

One God November 5, 2005
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
This great verse has been recited countless times by Israelites down through the centuries, setting forth their distinctive belief in one great Creator God. The Jews had retained their original belief in creation, handed down from Noah, while the other nations had all allowed their original monotheistic creationism to degenerate into a wide variety of religions, all basically equivalent to the polytheistic evolutionism of the early Sumerians at Babel.
But along with its strong assertion of monotheism, there is also a very real suggestion that this declaration, with its thrice-named subject, is also setting forth the Triune God. The name, "Lord," of course, is Yahweh, or Jehovah, the self-existing One who reveals Himself, while "God" is Elohim, the powerful Creator/Ruler. "Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah" is the proclamation. A number of respected Jewish commentators have acknowledged that the verse spoke of a "unified oneness," rather than an "absolute oneness." The revered book called the Zohar, for example, even said that the first mention was of the Father; the second one the Messiah; and the third, the Holy Spirit.
The key word "one" (Hebrew, achad) is often used to denote unity in diversity. For example, when Eve was united to Adam in marriage, they were said to be "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Similarly, on the third day of creation, the waters were " gathered together unto one place," yet this gathering together was called "Seas" (i.e., more than one sea; Genesis 1:9-10).
Thus, Israel's great declaration should really be understood as saying in effect: "The eternally omnipresent Father, also Creator and Sustainer of all things, is our unified self-revealing Lord." HMM

I then spent way too much time watching the longest interaction to date between mother and cub giant pandas, live via webcam from the National Zoo. Mei Xian and Tai Shan cuddled and played, licked and pawed for a half hour or so. The cub is reaching toward 16 pounds and is becoming more active every day. This is an amazing phenomenon to watch, and a rare one, as only 4 panda cubs have been raised successfully in the US. The next time I checked the webcam, Tai had collapsed into a heap, exhausted after his extended playtime. Pandas sleep a lot, due to their low energy level. A diet of bamboo doesn’t provide a lot of energy.
The photo of Tai Shan was taken during a recent medical exam.