Saturday, January 31, 2009


Now that I've demonstrated what little I remember from college, let's make this simple. We can spend our lives, and many have, using whatever math and science we have at our disposal in an attempt to drill down to the origins of life. The problem is: we just can't come up with an answer based on our own understanding. No matter how many theories and proofs that pop up on either side of this debate, there are simply too many unknowns, too many assumptions, and too many preconceived notions to come up with a clear, irrefutable answer.

You'll never find x.

So what do we do when math and science can't answer a problem? We turn to logic.

Yay! Say the atheists. Now we've got 'em!

After all, who can argue the logic that you cannot believe in something you've never seen, never touched, never heard.

Well...I can.

In my head, and in yours, is a clump of gray matter that weighs about 6lbs. We all got pretty much the same hardware package when we were born, despite what our spouses may claim. Now, as I try to comprehend the cosmos, the edges of the universe, exactly how far a billion light years really is, how the Captain Kirk can have instantaneous communications with Starship Command, I get a headache. I crash. Time to reboot and grab a cup of coffee.

As I try to imagine a God who created all the universe, knows every thought of every human, knows when a sparrow falls dead, I get a headache. Crash. Coffee. Two cups.

Our brains, as remarkable as they are, are finite. The universe is not. God is not. For us to assume that something cannot exist because our 6lb. lump can't fathom it...well, it's arrogant. I don't care how eloquent someone can speak or write against belief in God, he's working on the same hardware that I am. He's limited in his thought. He must admit that, whatever we believe about the origins of life, it is fantastic, almost impossible to comprehend.

So why can't x=God? Don't think religion, think super intelligent life outside of our universe. It seems that people can swallow that pretty easily. After all, in an infinite universe, there must be a higher life form somewhere, right? Well, why can't we call that higher life form God? Got a better name? Darrel? Somehow, "Darrel the highly intelligent life form" just doesn't fit into a Sunday hymn. But if Darrel suites you, I'll leave it alone for now.

Let's not get sidetracked with the subject of worship. I like baby steps. If I can convince one person that it's possible a highly intelligent creator may be responsible for this rock on which we live as well as the 6lb. lumps of flesh in our heads, then my work here is done.

Well, almost. But let's stop there for today. After all, you've only got 6lbs. to work with.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

X=whatever works

For those of you who don't remember high school Algebra, other than the zombie-like expression on the face of your fellow detainees, you cannot solve for two variables if you only have one equation. You need two. Three variables, three equations. Four variables, four equations, and so on.

When it comes to less stringent sciences, like economics, the variables are endless and the equations are few. That's why it's so frightening when the government decides to "help" the economy along. All they're doing is adding another variable into a sea of unknowns.

Now let's apply what we've learned to something even less tangible: the creation of the universe and, more specifically, life.

Science has attempted to explain the origins of life with a few known variables. For example, depth of fossils, nitrogen content in the atmosphere, the decay rate of certain radioactive particles, etc. While the scienctific community has opened our understanding of the natural world, no human being can ever claim to have the answer to the million dollar question: where did it all come from?

One of the first things I learned while working on my engineering degree is the art/science of making assumptions. Assumptions allow us to plug in a likely number where one doesn't exist. The further one goes back in time, the larger the pool of unknown variables. The scientist has no choice but to plug in more and more assumptions to get his answer. So if x in the equation is the age of the Earth, he'll plug in his last assumption. How about one-hundred billion years? Yes, that will work nicely. Now to the next assumption...

See where I'm going with this? This same scientist's "Age of the Earth" equation also involved hundreds, if not thousands, of assumptions. Which leads us to the next thing I learned as a young engineer: margin of error. The more assumptions one makes, the greater the margin of error. Even on something as "simple" as building a skyscraper, a few wrong assumptions and the whole thing comes toppling down. Aren't we glad that humans didn't design the planet?

The point of this post is not to argue the age of the Earth. That's simply another impossible-to-know variable in a long list. The point of this post is bring home this point: no human can assume to know the origins of life. It's all guesswork. Much of it with very good arguments. It must have very good arguments because there simply exists no proof. Or, at best, circumstantial evidence.

But I can make my point even more easily than that. I don't even need Algebra.

to be continued....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Somewhere Along the Way

I remember the day I graduated Lawrence Tech University with my Engineering Degree. This was it, man, I'd done it. Here was a guy who scraped through high school with a C- average and an impressive collection of beer bottle caps. Here was a guy who spent 4 years in the Navy and had a Chief recommend that he not re-enlist. Here was guy whose career goal, before meeting his wife, was to get a job on the auto assembly line (I owe that woman my life).

And I had, not just any degree, but an engineering degree. That requires like math and stuff.

I was going places. I'd never want for anything. Or so I thought.

This is not about bad economies and the realization that no job is really safe. I've learned that one many years ago. This is about a guy who thought he had it all, and in the eyes of the world he did. But, in reality, what he was lacking far exceeded what he'd gained.

I'm talking about faith, of course. Even more basic, I'm talking about the realization that I had a spiritual side. For someone who had a career based in science and tangible evidence, this was a stretch. While I wouldn't go so far as to say I was an atheist, I'd call my religious leanings "Disinterested Agnostic." It seemed like a nice, safe place to be. I'm one who likes to hedge his bets.

Fact is, it was the science and math part of me that pushed me to investigate the claims of the atheists. The way I saw it, I had two choices. I either believed in an intelligent creator, or I believed that all matter and energy just suddenly appeared from...nothing. Whatever I believed, it went against known science and was pretty incredible.

Think I'll continue down this path on my next post.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forgiving the Unforgivable

This has been a popular subject with me lately. Forgiveness. It is, arguably, the most difficult of all that our Lord calls us to do. Forgive those who sin against us as God forgives our sins. It sounds easy enough when we recite the Lord's prayer each week, but we don't really understand how difficult it is until we've been betrayed to such a point that we see forgiveness as impossible. Surely God doesn't expect us to forgive people who use all that they know about us in an attempt to destroy us.

If you think I'm writing this from first hand experience, you'd be correct. While the betrayal I speak of is not of a personal nature, more of business, it's still hurtful in that it goes far beyond honest competition. It's an outright attempt to destroy the lives of others. It gets very personal.

Now, I didn't write this to vent my frustration. I wrote it because I know that I will allow myself to be destroyed if I cannot forgive. Even more important than the survival of the company is the welfare of my soul and the greater achievement of a happy, loving family. After all, honestly, if the company is destroyed, I'll find other means of income. Perhaps even start another company. The employees there would struggle for a while, but they're good people and would find employment elsewhere. But if I were to allow this to fester in my heart, it would make me a bitter man for the rest of my life and not much use to God, my family, or myself.

Fortunately, I do have the power to forgive. And it is a power given by the Holy Spirit. Don't think it's much of a power? Look around at all the people on this earth who live their lives for vengeance. Entire nations are destroyed by it. Yet each of us can choose to let it destroy us or move on.

I choose to move on. In fact, I choose to pray for those who hate me. And I have. It may be the single most tangible evidence of Christ in our lives: the ability to forgive and push aside the anger that would otherwise eat at us like a cancer. When I allow myself to view the world through the eyes of those who want to be my enemy, I see that they too feel betrayed and hurt. Either of us can make the argument that we're the victim. But that accomplishes nothing.

Jesus knew that we could never experience the freedom He offered if we couldn't shake the chains of our anger. I forgive those who sin against me. And I pray that they can forgive me as well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapter 1

The most intimidating thing I did this year, so far, is to sit down to a blank Word document and type "Chapter 1." Do you have any idea how vast that white space can look with that at the top? It's an arctic wasteland. From within the wasteland anything can happen. I can start nuclear wars, cause people to fall in love (and out), kill off a few bad guys. Or just stare at it.

Which seems to be the easiest thing to do.

Do you think God wrote "Chapter 1" thousands of years ago and then suffered writer's block? Did He write the first chapter a couple dozen times, tear it out of the typewriter (no laptops yet), crumble it up and make a spectacular 3-pointer into a black hole? Maybe that's where all the dinosaur bones came from. They're just rejected first chapters. After all, what editor is gonna buy a bunch of non-talking reptiles who do nothing but eat plants and each other?

So He decided on a love story instead. Much better idea. Of course, it had to have all the bad stuff, too. Wars, rumors of wars, hurricanes, floods, Nancy Pelosi. But then came His son about two-thirds through the book. Man, that was great. And it wasn't even the end. Most writers save the best for last. I guess the end is still pretty exciting. But still, I think the editors will have an issue with the savior showing up too soon. Doesn't exactly play out like a good western, does it?

Anyway, I'll get back to chapter 1 tomorrow morning. I don't think I'm clever enough to let the hero save the day in the middle. I'd better do it the normal way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Start...Again

The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of highs and lows for me. I started with a new company, stopped writing, watched my daughter enter high school, and have felt betrayed by someone I once respected. The worries of running a small business in a terrible economy have weighed down on me until I could hardly sleep at night. All the while, I've felt myself growing more and more distant from God.

Recently I've made the decision to turn that around. Jesus said that if we set our sights on the Kingdom of Heaven, everything else will fall into place (the New Ron Translation). It's a simple verse, like most in the Gospels, but one easy to forget.

A couple of weeks ago my Pastor announced that we were looking into starting a weekly meal for the needy in our area. Keep in mind, I live in northern Oakland County, Michigan, once one of the richest areas in the country. The idea that we needed free meals for the needy was absurd only a few years ago. It's not so absurd anymore. So we're going to do what a church is supposed to: take care of our brothers and sisters, Christian or not, because that's what Christ expects of us.

I saw this as a chance to do something real. Not another ministry to serve other Christians or sending money overseas, but a chance to help my neighbor, someone I can see, touch, speak to. It's why the church is here.

We had a meeting at the church last night to get an overview of how such a project will work. Of course, other churches are already doing it, so we have the blueprint. I'm hoping things will get moving quickly, as the need is growing in our area. I suppose I'm a bit selfish, because I see this as an opportunity to lift my spirit as much as helping others. I want more than anything to feel that excitement I first felt when I came to know the Lord. Just by taking that first step last night, attending a meeting, I'm already feeling His presence again.

The Associate Pastor who gave the presentation last night told us of a man, retired, who learned of the program at their church and just started showing up every week at the same time to wash the dishes. He wasn't even a church member (he is now). I thought to myself: doing dishes for the Lord. What could be better?

It doesn't have to be a big job. But just to do something for the Lord would be better than anything I could accomplish in business.

So I've felt more at peace about the things happening in the world around me. Businesses come and go. I've forgiven those who have wronged me, worked hard to see things from their point of view. I can see how they've felt betrayed or hurt. Nothing can harm me in this life that won't pail in comparison to the glory that awaits.

Happy 2009.