Category Archives: Science

Getting Them “In”

eyeseeyouChurch leaders are lamenting declining attendance and seeking creative ways to get people into their buildings.  Preachers are even going to where the people are…imagine that!  (Sounds suspiciously like something Jesus did.)  But the goal appears to ultimately get people into their “worship services.” (We seem to forget that we are the “called out” not the “called in.”)

I hate to break it to you, but that’s not going to work.  People have better things to do with their time than to file into an auditorium, sing a few songs, listen to a few prayers, observe a few rituals, pay homage to a few traditions and listen to a monologue that may or may not be relevant…all the while staring at the back of the heads seated in front of them.

Some pin their hopes of getting people into their auditoriums on hiring a hotshot young Osteen-like preacher and a rockin’ band led by a highly talented choreographer/director/producer.  Unfortunately, without a large membership and a large budget, small congregations are left out in the cold.

The only way to increase attendance in assemblies is something any church of any size can do: fulfill their intended purpose namely, to build up our fellow disciples.  What we are doing now is just not cutting it.  When our assemblies become focused on encouragement, enlightenment and stirring up one another to love and good works…our assemblies will be packed.

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Filed under Discussion, Garlic and Onions, Heart, Motion Pictures, Science, Uncategorized

The Satanic Western Diet

I have no idea to whom to attribute the following little article to — I just found it in my collection.  If you know the author, I will give full credit to him/her. Some of my readers may not know that I recently endured double bypass surgery.  I have determined to never do that again.  I will recommend a couple of books that have converted me to a plant-based, fat-free diet.  In the meantime enjoy the little parable below.

And God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

And Satan created McDonald’s. And McDonald’s brought forth the double-cheeseburger. And Satan said to Man, “You want fries with that?” And Man said, “Super size them.” And Man gained pounds.

And God created the healthful yogurt, that woman might keep her figure that man found so fair.   And Satan froze the yogurt, and he brought forth chocolate, nuts and brightly colored sprinkle candy to put on the yogurt. And woman gained pounds.

And God said, “Try my crispy fresh salad.”  And Satan brought forth creamy dressings, bacon bits, and shredded cheese. And there was ice cream for dessert. And woman gained pounds

And God said, “I have sent your heart healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them.”  And Satan brought forth chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained pounds, and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.

And God brought forth running shoes, and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.   And Satan brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil to change channels between ESPN and EPSN2. And Man gained pounds.

And God said, “You’re running up the score, Devil.”

And God brought forth the potato, a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.   And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep fat fried them. And he created sour cream dip also. And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol. And Satan saw and said,

“It is good.”

And Man went into cardiac arrest.

And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery…

And Satan created HMOs.

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Filed under Devil, Diet, Food, Good & Evil, Heart, Humor, Ignorance, Science, Vegan

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule.  Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle.  Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great musician?  Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great scientist?  Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours.  Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status.  You can read more here.

My attention, sadly, has always been divided.  I have always had too many irons in the fire.  I have been too interested in too many things.  I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise.  Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.

I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert.  What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus.  Hopefully, it is not too late for you.

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Filed under Aging, Biography, Book Reviews, Ignorance, Initiative, Life, Music, Preaching/Teaching, Science

Science and Religion in Competition?

Several atheistic blogs I read are guilty of “scientism.”  Scientism is not science but rather deductions and speculations arising out of scientific observations.  Truth is truth no matter the source.  Scientism, however, sees science and empirical observation as the only source of truth.  Consider this definition:

Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.

Here’s an example from a blog called, Unreasonable Faith

Belief never invented a laser, or pressed a CD, or kept a ‘plane in the air, or restarted a heart – Science has done all of that and more, a whole bunch of times.” And, “Against this staggering work and monumental achievement (the proof that one of Einstein’s theories is correct – DW) on one single scientific project out of hundreds of thousands, there stand some old men in robes, telling us that God did it, because it says so in the nth translation in the chain of some bronze-aged myths written by some camel-herders.

For the moment let’s ignore the ridicule and the reality that many respected scientists believe that “God did it.”  More to the point: science and faith are two different things and, thus, not in competition. Faith is defined as, “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). On the other hand, science is totally based on what can be seen. When interpretation of scientific observations moves beyond the observable, it becomes speculation. Speculation is fine and useful for building hypotheses but it is still speculation.  And there’s nothing wrong with speculations as long as they are recognized as such.  Just don’t ask me to accept them as incontrovertible truth.

Many religious people have rightly been resistant to speculations contradicting the concept of a Creator. Others have stubbornly held to their own religious speculations that are in obvious contradiction to observable and undeniable facts. This is foolish in light of the reality that observable facts (sans speculations) do not contradict the concept of a Creator God.  In truth, some of those facts call loudly for a first cause and a designer.

Science and faith operate in two separate realms. Faith presupposes the existence of a supernatural realm (things not seen). Science can only operate in the natural realm. To place them in competition is ridiculous.


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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Creation, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Philosophy, Religion, Ridicule, Science, Scripture, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism

The Universe: Two Perspectives

My wife and I enjoy reading and watching mysteries – you know, Agatha Christie, etc.  I like to watch the television versions with her because I often get lost in the details and she doesn’t.  I have to have things spelled-out in simple terms. “Okay, was it the long-lost cousin who showed up from Kenya who took the papers from the study in the dark of night or was it the daughter who stood to lose her inheritance?”  “Who done it,” is easy for her (and Miss Marple), difficult for me.  I have noticed I have to do this with most things.

I can’t claim to have always been a solid theist.  In my university days, I followed in the footsteps of my father and began my studies as an agnostic.  My professors reinforced that position since most of them were either atheist, agnostic or ambivalent on the matter of belief.  Thanks to a teacher who helped me to see there are two sides to the question of belief, I came down on the side of faith in a Creator.  It just seemed much more reasonable.  Still does.

In my life-long attempt to get things straight, I have looked long and hard at the ongoing debate between theists and atheists. I have begun to see that whether to believe or not believe is largely a matter of perspective. We are part of an amazing, spectacular, unfathomable, intricate universe.  Before we even consider our microscopic little blue planet, there are the stars orbited by uncountable planets, gathered into galaxies numbering in the multiplied millions.  Then there is our tiny island with the only life we are presently aware of.  Intricate complexity and design is increasingly evident as we delve into the subatomic realms. Are the complexity, intricacy, design and order we see the results of accidental, random yet unobservable processes?  Is life the outcome of chemical processes that we don’t yet understand? How do we account for all this?

As for me, this is how it all boils down: The theist looks at the universe and concludes there is no way this complexity, intricacy, design and order could happen by itself.  The atheist looks at all the complexity, intricacy, design and order and concludes that it did indeed happen by itself. Two perspectives – which one makes more sense to you?

My blogs:
Whitticisms: dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Persuasion, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism

Sir John Carew Eccles, Believer

“People who believe in God are ignorant and superstitious.  Intelligent, educated people do not believe in God.” Perhaps you have read or heard such nonsense spouted by the so-called “new atheists.”  This is an ignorant and arrogant falsehood.  From time to time in this blog, I will feature quotations from highly respected scientists (many Nobel Prize winners) who are solid theists.  Hopefully, such information will put to rest such misinformed arguments among open-minded readers.

Consider Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles.  Sir John was an Aussie, born in Melbourne in 1903 and died in 1997.  More information can be found in Wickipedia and at Nobelprize.org.

Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of conflict is a result of ignorance.

We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence.

There has been a regrettable tendency of many scientists to claim that science is so powerful and all pervasive that in the not too distant future it will provide an explanation in principle for all phenomena in the world of nature, including man, even of human consciousness in all of its manifestations. [Karl] Popper has labeled this claim as promissory materialism, which is extravagant and unfulfillable.

Yet on account of the high regard for science, it has great persuasive power with the intelligent laity because it is advocated by the great mass of scientists who have not critically evaluated the dangers of this false and arrogant claim.

I regard this theory as being without foundation. The more we discover scientifically about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a superstition held by dogmatic materialists. It has all the features of a Messianic prophecy, with the promise of a future freed of all problems—a kind of Nirvana for our unfortunate successors.

We have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.

The amazing success of the theory of evolution has protected it from significant critical evaluation in recent times. However, it fails in a most important respect. It cannot account for the existence of each one of us as unique, self-conscious beings.

Thanks to John Clayton and Does God Exist? Quotes were downloaded from http://www.doesgodexist.org/MayJun10/Eccles-Nobel.html, 18 July 2010

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Bigotry, Culture Wars, Faith, Ignorance, Intelligence, Philosophy, Quotations, Religion, Science, Supernatural, Theism, Thinking

Live Your Adventure

High adventure was on my young index of dreams.  As it turns out, my adventures have been mild ones.  I never did become an explorer, sailor, naturalist, anthropologist, spelunker, diver, paleontologist, prospector, or performer.  As a young boy I avidly read about the adventures of men like Thor Heyerdahl and William Beebe.  Beebe was an ornithologist, explorer, and author.  He was an early ecologist.  He made a record-breaking dive in a bathysphere to a depth of 3,028 ft in 1934.  He lived the adventures of my dreams.

Recently, I ran across a piece written by him in his old age.  It’s good advice for all adventurers, young and old.

What I Would Do
Will Beebe

If I were as young in years again as I still am inside,
I should make me a list of a few things to do before I die:

To go at least once clear around this jolly world.

To live with savages and in jungles now and then
and learn how splendid they are.

To ride and read and shoot and play and study and think
and be silent with such enthusiasm that every moment
of unnecessary sleep would be a crime.

To live so fully that most people would seem dead on their feet.

To own a magnificent telescope and by frequent use never
to forget the humor of my size and place and ambitions in the universe.

Finally, do the things all over again, for I have
done them and am still at it, and I know.

For just this once I have broken my motto of “Don’t tell.”
And now forget everything that I have said and live your own life.

As it turns out, I have lived my own life.  As a 25 year-old missionary and married with children, I concentrated on being a good husband, father and evangelist but never stopped dreaming.  Those later dreams were milder ones: farmer, woodcarver (a skilled one), preacher (an effective one), teacher (a beneficial one) and writer (a successful one).  In small, insignificant ways I have dabbled in the later dreams and found much satisfaction.

I find I no longer aspire to fame or celebrity status — having seen the emptiness of those pursuits. Besides that, I’m getting a bit “long in the tooth,” whatever that means.

Aside from some major life challenges, I am satisfied with my little shop where I carve wood, my vegetable garden (the farming part) teaching and mentoring aspiring missionaries, working with ministry training schools in the South Pacific (and soon, hopefully Asia), and writing blogs and books.  The adventure continues.

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Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blogs & Blogging, Life, Meaning of Life, Philosophy, Science, Writing