Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Science and faith can make a strange combination, but I find it a lot of fun. I believe that everything God created is truth in itself. If science discovers something which appears to be in conflict with my faith (with scripture), then I must assume that my understanding of science or of faith is in error or incomplete.

I also believe that God does not play tricks on us. Therefore, I do not believe the argument that the universe was created a short time ago with all the radiation and light already in transit, appropriately red or blue shifted, bending around gravity lenses and such, as if they have been on their way longer than that.

So... I am going to take a perpendicular tangent to what I’ve been writing on and see where things go (picture me sticking out out my right leg and sharply turning 90 degrees).

There is a cool article, “The End of Cosmology”, in the latest Scientific American about the disappearing evidence for The Big Bang. I was excited to see the blurb on the cover because so many of my Christian friends feel the theory attacks our faith, and the blurb could be interpreted to mean that new discoveries may have the theory in question. But it doesn’t and that is exciting (at least for me) as well.

The article was really about the expansion of the universe. Now, as I’m sure most of you have heard, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (except for the “information” in tangled photon pairs which crops up in quantum mechanics and has me completely, enthusiastically, confused).

However, though nothing travels faster than the speed of light, there is a strange effect of the increasing expansion of the universe. Though everything in the universe is traveling well under light speed, the cumulative effect of all those things moving further apart makes the overall expansion of the entire universe spreading out at speeds well above the speed of light!


Imagine that. Locally we have such structures as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Greater and Smaller Magellanic clouds, all moving toward us (due to gravity interactions) everything else, and I mean everything, all the billions of galaxies with their billions of stars, are moving farther away, with the furthest accelerating away at ever increasing speeds. And if one pretends that we are at the center of things (a common homocentric view) the furthest reaches in each direction are receding at speeds that will increasingly speed them away at a perceived speeds greater than the speed of light.

Amazing! As the universe ages beings of the distant future will see fewer and fewer other galaxies until, 100 billion years from now, only our galaxy (well, our galaxy mixed with the local group of galaxies, forming a supergalaxy) will be the only thing in sight. We won’t be able to imagine anything like: “Long, Long Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far away” because we will have long forgotten that there are other galaxies.

I lost you, didn’t I?

OK, let’s change the subject.

How about a theological approach to the concept that there are other dimensions? I’m going to jog around the topic of other physical dimensions (which are obviously there, but where I am headed is even more fun).

Let’s start with this premise: God is omniscient.

Hmmm... all knowing.

Well, in terms of time alone, that would mean that He already knows everything that has and will happen.

We can’t. We can’t see the future. We can’t observe the past.

What if there was another dimension to time, just as we can easily imagine two dimensions of space (like the surface of a sheet of paper). If the time we experience is a point on a line dragging us ever “forward,” then if one could move to the right or left, or in any direction other than along the line, we could visit any time in all of creation!

Perhaps that is what Heaven is. Eternity would instantly exist if one were not bound to the movement of time dragging us ever in the direction of entropy. One could step aside and simply stay in one place, continue forever in a single instant. One could also move in any of the two directions of time and be able to go forward backward, beside it. If that is so, then I would imagine the Crucifixion to be the most viewed, the most experienced event in all of creation, God, in human form, experiencing death, in place for us all. One would be able to simply be at any instant of that event and stay there for an infinite amount of “time”.

Did I lose you? I hope not, because there’s more! If I did lose you, just think of eternity as being something not confined to being dragged forward. One could simply experience what would look like an instant of time frozen forever, or fast forward, or reverse, or skip to a whole other part of the story just as one can do in the “Scene Selection” of a DVD menu.

But... that is still not omniscience. It is the ability to view, to learn, to gather all the information throughout all of creation, but it is not the same as being able to contain it all at once.

To be able to be omniscient one would have to be able to lift off the two dimensions of time and be able to discern it as a whole.

It would be like a cartoon drawing on a sheet of paper being able to suddenly grow a third dimension and step away from the sheet of paper and be able to hold the paper in its hands.

Ah... here we are getting close to omniscience. If there were a third dimension of time then all of creation, from the Big Bang to far beyond the loss of all energy (perhaps trillions of years into a future when all energy drops away and therefore all information is lost) could be held as an “object” by such a being who could know it intimately, being completely outside of all its experience, as well within it.

So... This strange little rabbit trail of thought, or as Einstein might have been kind enough to extend his term... “thought experiment,” would mean the following:

1. We are beings of a single dimension of time.
2. Beings of two dimensions of time would be eternal and able to view all of eternity but would not all at once.
3. Beings of three dimensions of time would be omniscient, being able to view, to know, to see, and to hold all of time as a whole.

You still with me?

Before I close, you should know the following:

1. I’m a strange human being with odd thoughts.
2. Of all the things I think about and think I know, I am almost certainly wrong about nearly all of them.
3. It is fun to see how might the premises of my faith play out in the physical universe.

Monday, February 18, 2008


This country is in a struggle over many things. We struggle with our wealth, our consumerism. We struggle with our pride, seeking to gain an advantage in political, economic, and clandestine cat and mouse games with other political powers. And we struggle with our conscience.

We are quietly ashamed over our war in southeast asia forty years ago. We don’t care for the way we entered, and especially the way we left. We treated our soldiers shamefully when they returned, and in general we simply wish we had done something different during that decade.

Today we make exagerated efforts to distinguish our feelings between the warriors in the field and the politicians who wage it. We take great pains to make certain that we tell ourselves, and the world, that we “support our troops,” no matter how we feel about the war itself. (Though I think if we really want to support our troops we would be willing to pony up a little more money to help their families, increase their death benefits, and fix the V.A. hospitals, but I’m getting off topic).

Now I’m not setting up any sort of argument to take one side or the other on our current war in the middle east. But it has gotten me thinking.

There have been wars we supported far more. In particular there was the war sixty years ago. World War II.

Our country debates over the right thing to do in Afghanistan and Iraq, but once we entered World War II we supported not only the troops but the war effort in general in far more substantial ways than we do today.

People saved foil, and tin and string. People rationed sugar and rubber and meat. People did all they could because they felt called to do it. They felt that it was what they had to do, to sacrifice, to give up a little here and there, or even a lot here and there, to provide the materials needed to fight that tremendous war on two sides of the planet.

Perhaps it is because we felt in that war we were fighting a tangible evil (today we are less certain about who, what, and where the evil may be). Regardless, people believed they heard a call, a cry for them to do something.

It isn’t all that often people feel called to do something, to sacrifice something. At least not in this country.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how difficult my current situation is. He said something that really caught my attention.

I can't say exactly what he said here (I don't want to talk about my situation here). But this part I can say:

“God is calling you to stay steady, to hang in there when it is a difficult thing for you to do. You haven’t any choice. You have to do as He asks.”

I believe he is right. There is another voice saying: “Hang in there, Will. Hang in there.”

I am being called to remain steady as a husband, as a man, as a follower of the Carpenter. I really do not like this situation, sometimes I feel like it is driving me insane.

But those words were encouraging. They helped me to see that it is sometimes OK to sacrifice a little.

Perhaps it is easier to believe in something, to stand up for something, whether it is tyranny or faith, when we are called to make tough choices.

Friday, February 15, 2008


This is way off the topics I usually discuss, but I thought I'd point out a rather interesting website. Check this out.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I don’t remember when the idea first came to me, but I have often thought, as I return to my home, that if houses had punctuation it would be helpful.

I picture a great big exclamation point floating in the air over my home. A sort of “DANG!

It would be helpful for emergency response, wouldn’t it? The ambulance would be racing down the street and spot the 12 foot exclamation point above the roof and know exactly where to pull up.

Imagine the other sorts of punctuation that could be used. A great big question mark for those who are wrestling with tough problems. A comma for those who are taking a breath and getting ready to finish a thought. For those who can’t quite bring themselves to finish what is going on their lives, ellipses...

I imagine politicians and CEOs would have an emphatic period: “That’s the way it is and I have nothing further to say.

Perhaps there could be other signals... not sure how we could express the emphasis we might want with italics or bold fonts. perhaps the house would appear a little slanty or the outline might get thick and dark.

And fonts! From script to helvetica, typewriter to copperplate, it would be really handy to see on the outside what is going on within. Elderly spinsters would have flowery cursive with little flairs at the end of each word. Blue collar homes would print. And think what it would be like if every home had floating above it one word...

I try to be pretty careful with word choice and punctuation. I have my own little excessively strict rules for the use of commas. I am pretty free with whatever tricks I can use to get my mood, thoughts, nuances across in my writing.

But, like punctuation floating in the sky over my community, really expressing myself, even with careful word choice, isn’t so simple.

Words are symbols. They don’t replicate reality, they only convey an approximation based on a person’s interpretation of that reality.

I have a lot of emotions churning within me. Not only do I fail in communicating them clearly, I fail to even understand them myself.

There is one in particular I have been giving a lot of thought: anxiety.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
--Philippians 4:6

Well. God seems pretty clear about that feeling:


I wish I could turn it off. I need to just trust Him.

I do, mostly.

But not enough.

I’ll keep trying.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"I Know My Rights"

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--Preamble of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

I had a thought the other day which took me aback in its simplicity and its staggering implications:

I do not have the right to be happy.

In longing to fix my marriage I have thought much about what kind of life I want us to have. I’ve thought how I want a partner to share my life, good and bad, illness and health, the usual things we believe are a part of a marriage. I want it. I hope for it. I’m not sure if it will happen. In short, I want to be happy.

But I don’t have the right to it.

Americans are full of rights. I hate that phrase, the title of this post: "I know my rights." We say it so often, almost as a threat to anyone who crowds us too much. We glory in our rights.

We have the right to remain silent. We have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If we cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for us.

We have the Bill of Rights, a long list of freedoms and securities, and we always keep them in mind.

As Americans we feel the right to buy, to take, anything we need, anything we want.

When the Soviet Union fell and the Cold War ended I thought we would stop pouring so much money into the military, I thought we would finally turn our attention to education, reducing debt, science.

But, as a nation, we are as full of "our rights" as we are as individuals.

OK, OK, I won’t go down the path about U.S. consumption, corporate greed, and carbon emissions. I’m really thinking more personal anyway.

I fully accept that I have not been all that I should have been in my life. I recognize I was slow to my career, to caring for my family as I should, for helping my wife to feel special, cared for, loved.

And I accept that I am of the race which turned its back on God seeking "freedom", freedom from... love.

I know God wants me to be happy. I also know I have no right to it. Not with what I have done as an individual, what we have done as a race.

So, it occurred to me yesterday: I have no right to happiness.

Even our Declaration of Independence at the top of this post says nothing about having the right to happiness, only the pursuit of it. And that is a right granted me by the fact I was fortunate enough to be born in a land where that was given to me. Many in the world have so much less.

So, I recognize I really haven’t the right to happiness.

What I have is grace. I have the forgiveness of the Creator.

What I have is love. I have the sacrifice of my Lord Jesus.

What I have is hope. I have the presence of the Holy Spirit with me.

No rights. None.

There is a word about happiness given to the man who pleases Him (Ecclesiastes 2:26). Perhaps I will get that.

I understand Job’s feelings of hopelessness...

"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.

Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again...”
--Job 7:6-7

But, I think I am going to be OK. I have been talking to Jesus lately, just like He was a good friend. I’m not asking for stuff, not bargaining or even praising, just talking.

And something has happened. I felt something in my heart. I felt that the guy who smoothed pieces of wood on the shores of Galilee is happy to have me get to know Him as a friend.

Something has happened. The image of Him smoothing pieces of wood settled in my heart. And during a brief time in the Prayer Room yesterday I sketched Him doing just that, smoothing a piece of wood, a large timber of wood notched into a cross beam.

My art has returned.

I’m not really happy or anything. I’m not even expectant of the future, for I have no idea what to expect. I’m not demanding my rights, for I feel that after what I have done as a man, and what we have done as a race, we can’t expect too much.

But I’m praying to my Big Brother, my best friend, and it feels pretty good just to do that.