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.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Watching Swans, Photographers and Other Species

Excitement abounds at the Celery Farm Natural Area (Allendale, NJ) in the months of April and May. It’s migration season for warblers and just about everything else, so a video called “Birders Gone Wild” could easily be produced. An expert birder can easily spot (by sight and/or sound) a dozen or more warblers and scores of other species in one morning’s hike around the mile-plus perimeter of the preserve. My yield is usually embarrassingly smaller, but I enjoy the walk anyway.

This year is unique, however, because a pair of Mute Swans has chosen the Celery Farm’s lake for residency and nesting. And they graciously—one might even say miraculously--built their nest directly in front of one of the observation platforms, allowing visitors a perfect view of nest-building, egg-laying and young-rearing activities.

And activity there is. Two heavy rainfalls had both swan parents making emergency repairs as they tried to raise the nest and the eggs therein above water level. The work paid off, and their seven eggs are hatching this week. Photographers are crowding the platform to record the parents and cygnets in action—and to ooh and ah at each appearance of the babies from under the mother’s breast.

From my perspective, watching and listening to the birders, photographers and other types is almost as fascinating as watching and photographing the swans. Classifying the flock into various species of birders, photogs and hybrids thereof, as well as an occasional ecologist, zoo employee on maternity leave, or harried father with his accompanying horde, is a fun exercise in taxonomy and human behavior.

The photographers just want to get the shot and complain incessantly about bad light or an infernal protruding twig in the nest that threatens to spoil every shot.

The serious birders take a passing interest in the swans—they would rather snag warblers for their spring migration lists.

The cynics—not exactly rare birds themselves—opine that the snapping turtles are going to snag most of the cygnets once they hit the water. (Which is probably true, but that other breed, the kindergarten teacher, is repulsed by the thought.)

Then there was the ecologist-cynic hybrid who wrote to the local newspaper, complaining that we shouldn’t be happy about the presence of the Mute Swan, since it is an invasive alien species that will take over and wreak havoc on the ecology of the preserve.

It takes all kinds.

As for me, I can see a little of each of the described species in myself—which is why I need the Savior! As a Christian, I must look at every experience—even swan and people-watching—from a biblical perspective. So what am I to make of the whole Celery Farm scene?

First, I am overjoyed that a small patch of God’s creation has been preserved and thankful for the people who helped save it from development. That took perseverance by not a few people and the cooperation of local officials to make it happen in the face of intense pressure from real estate developers. For that, everyone, both Christian and unbeliever alike should be thankful.

Second, I am aware that the 107-acre bit of nature is a tiny piece of God’s fallen creation. It teems with examples of God’s creative handiwork—and the effects of that creation’s fall into sin and the resultant curse of the land. Evidence of intelligent design and irreducible complexity abound in every animal and plant and in the ecological relationships among them. But at every turn in the path there loom decay, deformity, disease, parasitism, predation and death—all unnatural phenomena, inimical to God’s perfect original sinless creation. Only by seeing both of these realities side by side and simultaneously can I have a balanced view and attitude toward the natural world.

When the snapping turtles snap and the swan family suffers loss—a realistic possibility—I will weep at the loss of God’s creatures because death is not natural; it is an enemy and the result of sin entering the world. But I will also know that in the end God will ultimately be glorified. I know that one death, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, conquered death in a very real sense. His death and resurrection actually accomplished the salvation of a particular group of people: His people, His sheep, His church, His elect. And in the end, there will be a resurrection of all, the believer to glorious eternal life, the unbeliever to eternal separation and woe. And there will be a “better than ever” version of God’s original “very good” creation for all believers to enjoy as we sing praises to our Lord and Savior.

Watching and photographing swans with old friends and new acquaintances has been a blessing. My prayer is that more of the whole swan-watching bunch would gain an appreciation of what those big white birds are--magnificently and intelligently designed parts of God's creation that show off both His creative power and His amazing grace in sustaining His sin-cursed cosmos.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Reflected Glory

It is April 1, the only holiday the atheists are allowed to celebrate (Psalm 14:1). And lest I should be considered a fool for not blogging since January, I had better get something up, even if it is something foolish.

Looking at the night sky is NOT foolish (Psalm 19:1). Last night I stared at the Moon for a good while, enjoying a spectacle that particularly declares the glory of our Creator God. It was two nights after the New Moon, so the lighted portion was a mere sliver. But the entire lunar face could be dimly seen, due to “Earthshine,” the phenomenon in which sunlight reflected off Earth reaches the Moon and returns to our eyes.

The fact that we can see this twice-reflected light is evidence of the tremendous amount of light generated by our Sun, which astronomers tell us is only an “average-sized” star. Sunlight must travel 93 million miles to reach Earth, then make a 500,000-mile round trip from Earth to Moon and back. And the amount of light reflected by each body (albedo) is rather small. Earth reflects only 10-50% of light hitting it, depending on cloud cover, and the Moon is an even poorer reflector, with an albedo of a mere 7%. Yet, on a clear night just before or after the New Moon, Earthshine is clearly and eerily seen.

Earthshine is just one more little treat that God gives us periodically to show us His handiwork. Any fool should recognize it as such (Romans 1:20,) but to those living merely under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1) it is just so much ho-hum astronomy. Only those living “in the Son,” united by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, can truly appreciate the reflected light of the Moon as a picture of God’s glory reflected in His created cosmos.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Long time no blog--now let's hit the books!

I suppose the whole Intelligent Design thing dogged my brain to such an extent that I was incapable of intelligently designing a blog entry for several weeks. So I let the gray matter relax by allowing it to recreate in the less taxing task of reorganizing my library, now that my new bookcases have arrived.

For some time now my library has taken the form of stacks, not in the public library sense of the word, but in the sense of piles—piles in corners, piles under tables, piles in trunks and cartons. So now was the time to un-stack all my wonderful volumes and give them not only breathing room (some have become very musty) but also some sense of organization and dignity.

So up on the shelves they go. What could be easier and quicker?

Not so fast! Am I going to allow the vertical piles to become mere horizontal piles, a heterogeneous olio of randomness? Doing so would make the library little more useful than when it was “stacked.” So how to arrange the volumes? Surely I can’t be expected to put little stickers on the spines with Dewey Decimal System numbers—or Library of Congress designations! And the Soviet system of grouping books by size, while practical for utilization of shelf space, would hardly be useful for my purposes. So let’s just group the books by general subject matter and see what happens.


It is several days later, and I can report that the literary taxonomy job wasn’t too difficult. The books fell into rather natural categories, including:

*Pure Theology—Bibles, reference, book studies, apologetics, church history, prophecy, devotional.
*Pure Science—biology, ecology, physical sciences, medicine, evolution (is this “pure” science?).
*Science, Creation, ID, and Religion—with books on every side of the issue.
*History and Politics.
*Fiction (a very small section—I prefer “verity”).
*Writing and reference
*Autographed books—several by James R. White; several by my former students.
*Books by favorite authors—Francis Schaeffer, Henry Morris, R. C. Sproul, etc.
*Ramsey High School Yearbooks (43!).
*And, of course, “Miscellaneous” (a surprisingly small category).

Several days later? That job should have taken but a few hours! But who can resist becoming reacquainted with old friends. With some books, it took only seconds or minutes to remind myself of their contents and value, but with a few, a glance and skim didn’t satisfy—I had to dig into whole chapters! Books as diverse in philosophy and content as “Consilience” by E. O. Wilson, “Gaia” by J. E. Lovelock, “Future Grace” by John Piper and “Gleanings From the Scriptures” by A. W. Pink all sucked me in and engaged me for a day or two each. Time flies like an arrow (fruit flies like a banana.)

And so it goes. Maybe some book reports will follow. But for now, it’s back to my librarian’s role. Now, under what category should I put “The ACLU vs. America?”