Friday, June 25, 2010

We're All Here For The Donuts

The Headmaster can't seem to get this church sign out of his head. The message is so jarring, it seems more appropriate to show it as a negative image - just like in those sensational news stories. Zoom into the image and cue the scary music as the announcer says: "Does this Montgomery County church want its congregation to commit suicide? Story at 11."

I mean, even while speaking theological truth (depending on your interpretation of the Bible), it turns the tables on just about everyone's interpretation of LIFE. I mean, why else are we here, if not to live THIS life to the fullest?

Since the dawn of man, we've made up stories to help answer the age-old question Why are we here? These stories have never really been up to the task, so the philosophers have stepped in to try and help. And while I mean no disrespect to you philosophers (what, you think philosophers don't read this blog?), when you have a question so tough that you have to call in the philosophers, you're pretty much screwed.

So what have the philosophers had to say about this question? Imagine the conversation if you had them in a room:

Thales: We're here because of the water.
Anaximander: No, we're here because of the fish.

Pythagoras: BEANS!

    awkward silence

        Look, we're here because of the beans...
          ...and to drive our kids nuts with math.

Socrates: We're here to [talk and annoy people].
Plato (waking up): Yeah, what he said.
Epicurus: I don't know about you guys, but I'm here for the donuts. Have you tried these chocolate cake ones?
Aristotle: We're here to organize things. Dammit Epicurus, now you've mixed the cake donuts with the glazed.
Homer: Doh!

And that was all BEFORE Christianity. When Jesus came along he simplified things. And that's when everything got real complicated. Think the Bible has the answers? The Bible is what produced that church sign. And that church sign sets the Headmaster's head to spinning with thoughts of another conversation:

God: My Son, I'm sending you down to live on Earth, my grand creation. I made it just for you. It took me six whole days to deck the place out with everything you will need. Grain, vegetables and animals to eat. Water to drink. Resources to make shelter. Dinosaurs to make oil for your SUV. Slaves to... oh, wait, scratch that - I keep forgetting. But oh, the women - beautiful women to provide love and warmth and... ummm... children, but don't hold that against me. Did I mention the women are beautiful?
Man: Wow, sounds great! I can't wait to live there!
God: Well yes, but I don't really want you to LIVE there.
Man: Well, then where?
God: I mean, yes you're going to live there, but I don't want you to live your LIFE there. I mean... your REAL life is with me, and lasts for eternity. But only AFTER you've lived on Earth for some number of years. I can't tell you how long you'll be there, but if you are very good and virtuous, you will come back to me and your life on Earth won't matter.
Man: Uh, then why send me there?
God: ... Look, it's very complicated. Just go there and be good, then you will see.
Man: So if I'm good, then I will come back to you to live my REAL life? For eternity?
God: YES! You've got it! Um... except that being good isn't technically good enough. You see, I made you imperfectly. I mean, perfectly imperfect. That is, I MEANT to make you imperfect. So you will not be able to remain virtuous. But you will be forgiven if you believe in my son.
Man: You mean, believe in myself?
God: No, I mean my REAL son.
Man: But I thought I was your real son.
God: Yes my child, I am your father, but... look, it's complicated.
Man: Women?
God: Yes, but it's not what you think.
Man: Oooookayy.


Man: So let me see if I've got this straight. I go to earth for some unknown number of years, act virtuously, believe in your REAL son, and then I'll be able to live my REAL life with you for eternity?
God: Yes! Well, except that you technically don't have to be virtuous, as long as you believe in my son. I mean, that's the important part. Because I made you to be bad, you'll need to be forgiven.
Man: By you?
God: Yes.
Man: Oh for crissakes.
Man: sigh.... So anyway, you're saying I can do pretty much anything I want, as long as I believe in your son?
God: Well... technically speaking, yes.
Man: Hm... Tell me about the women again.

Life Sucks. Thank God!

Browns Bridge Academy spends an enormous amount of time and money maintaining the Marty P. Wasserman Pool and grounds on the West Campus, named after Academy alum ('71) and former Maryland Secretary of Health Martin Wasserman, who commissioned the pool in 1980. The Board of Regents recently considered a motion to rename the pool for the current Headmaster, who had commissioned a major overhaul of the facility. However, events conspired to divert the funds into the James M. Chandler Septic System on the North Campus.

Given the extent of pool facility maintenance, it is odd that at a recent board meeting a different pool was on the agenda. It seems that the students have begun spending all their time in another pool, hastily constructed by the neighbors one Saturday afternoon using a shovel, a screwdriver and some Bud Light. Its dimensions can best be described in terms of inches, and its grounds consist of some patchy grass, one dandelion and a lawn chair. Huh. There's no accounting for 11 year-old taste.

On Tuesday morning, the Academy's pool maintenance crew required some parts that could only be found at a specialty store in Bethesda: The Anglo-Dutch Pool and Toy Company. Yes, we are not kidding - imagine what you'd get if you took a pool store and fused it together with a toy store. After accomplishing this feat, if you were thinking your creation lacked a certain obvious incongruity, you might name it Anglo-Dutch when you, the proprietor, are in fact Arabic. Sigh... only in Bethesda.

On the drive to The Anglo-Dutch Pool and Toy Company, the Headmaster passed Hampshire View Baptist Church, where he encountered an exceedingly odd church sign. Being an erstwhile church sign photographer, he simply had to stop and snap a photograph. He then spent the remainder of his drive contemplating the meaning of the sign. As it turns out, Bethesda wasn't far enough to work it all out. But one thing did stick in his mind - the back of the sign had the words "God Bless the USA". The Headmaster didn't take a photograph of the back of the sign, because the church had deemed the message SO IMPORTANT that it constructed a 20-FOOT BANNER ACROSS THE FRONT ENTRANCE!

(side note - the architecture of the church fit nicely with Tuesday's theme of incongruity)

Isn't it odd that the pastor of this church can't see the incongruity of his messages? Or maybe he just believes that America figures prominently in post-rapture politics. Ah well, far be it from us to understand the higher logic of eschatology. We're simply excited to learn that nothing in this earthly life seems to matter, so we're actually better off letting the pool, the grounds - in fact the entire Academy and its student body - go to pot. But we'll continue to maintain the James M. Chandler Septic System, just in case it figures prominently in post-rapture scatology.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wii Teached 'em Good

At a recent Friday afternoon faculty gala (yes, we have them quite often - don't judge us), the discussion centered on the testing of homeschooled children. Should they be tested to ensure they're receiving an appropriate level of education?

On one end of the homeschooling spectrum we have un-schoolers who might be using the Playstation 3 curriculum, and on the other end of the spectrum we have... well, schools like the "Whiddon Flying Aces". At this school, it's all about organization and gettin' her done. Let's all face east and pay homage to Bowie's finest.

Some un-schoolers are actually very successful. Others, as we've noted, think the term "manipulatives" refers to Wii joysticks. What, if anything, should be done? Some of us feel that they should be left alone. The argument goes that it's their choice to harm their children, and it's really no business of ours. Others (the Academy included) beg to differ. I mean, we don't actually care if parents want their kids to spend their careers under paper hats, but their failures invite general scrutiny. And by scutiny, we mean jack-booted officers kicking in doors, confronting students down the barrel of a sharp #2 pencil and interrogating them with questions like "what's the formula for the area of a cylinder?" and "What are you doing for socialization?" It's enough to make the Headmaster hole himself up in a cabin in Montana for years, learning survival skills and writing a homeschooling manifesto...

[awkward pause]

Today the Academy had its annual review. After hiding the Wii controllers, we did the best we could. Then we handed out the paper hats.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music To My Ears

The definition of beauty arises from the recognition of ugliness ...Hu-Nu

A distinguished music student recently advanced from 6-string acoustic guitar to 8-string electric guitar.


Since the Academy suffers from a deplorable shortage of dollars and a deafening surplus of decibels, it was a momentary lapse of judgment indeed that drove the Headmaster to approve spending the former to purchase MORE of the latter. But the Headmaster's judgment is a topic for another day.

Hoping to justify this recent expenditure, the Headmaster was pleased to learn from the head of the music department that this student had achieved a milestone accomplishment - at ten years old he was the youngest student ever to have memorized Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of Alhambra), written by Spanish composer Fransisco Tarrega. It is a long piece, lyrically simple, yet technically complex. It begins on a note of melancholy, then progresses to an uplifting tune. According to Wikipedia:

The piece showcases the challenging 'tremolo' guitar technique often performed by advanced classical guitarists. Using this technique, a single melody note is plucked repeatedly by the ring, middle and index fingers in such rapid succession that the result is an illusion of one long, sustained tone. The thumb plays a counter-melody on the bass between melodic attacks. Many who hear this piece initially mistake it for a duet rather than a challenging solo effort.

One can only imagine the self-righteous grin advancing across the Headmaster's face. But just like an amplified note, such a grin is doomed to be short-lived.

At a recent faculty gala, this student was asked to perform the piece. In hindsight, the Headmaster might have paused to settle first on an acceptable definition of the term "perform". You see, this piece requires enormous digital dexterity - even on a composition for six-string guitar the fingers on the left hand are stretched in ways that can only be described as unnatural. And this is while the right hand is simultaneously employing the ring, middle and index fingers in rapid succession to maintain the illusion of one long, sustained tone, and also employing the thumb to maintain a counter-melody on the bass between melodic attacks. Yeah, it's tough enough to explain it, much less PLAY it. Fast. And lyrically.

To put it in simple terms, while the student does a wonderful job with it, playing very fast and pausing only occasionally to get the right fret fingering, it's a performance only a mother could love. Well, or a guitar player. Or maybe even a Headmaster trying to justify the expense of it all.

In a later gathering of attendees, the department head asked someone what he thought of the performance. Stammering in a valiant attempt to combine honesty with tact, he managed only to say that he'd been shocked at the end of the performance to learn that the student wasn't merely tuning his guitar.

It might be that the value of this recent capital expenditure is to help refine the definition of beauty.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The final word...

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.

In one of my favorite quotes, Ashley Montagu very succinctly sums up the way of it.

If Mr. Ross believes that science proves creationism, he should publish his findings in a scientific journal. And this concludes my review of "The Creator and the Cosmos".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The far, far side...

This cartoon was published in 1985, so Mr. Larson can be forgiven for what now appears as an obvious error. Everyone now knows that string theory is based on an ever-expanding universe, and thus applying a constant of 2 linear feet is a mistake. Mr. Larson himself said that it was "the greatest mistake of my life".

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chapter Four - The Discovery of the Twentieth Century

Review of The Creator and the Cosmos: fifth in a series...

Ok, the Headmaster now understands what's going on here. He's a little slow, but he usually catches on eventually. And he is forced to eat some crow. The author is merely doing what the Headmaster has been wishing Christians would do for years now - embrace science! The author is telling the faithful that everything is going to be ok, that science is gooood. And here is where the Headmaster whispers to himself - "next time, be careful what you wish for".

At face value, this is great stuff. It's like calming the kids after a huge thunderclap. Ross is helping the faithful to see that science isn't the devil's work, and that religion and science can coexist. (And his message is being met with MUCH resistance, apparently) More specifically, he is using his knowledge of the Bible and his knowledge of the cosmos to demonstrate that the bible actually predicts all scientific conclusions. Of course, this requires mental gymnastics to the extreme, but who cares?

Well, in short, the Headmaster cares - for a couple of reasons. First, the gymnastics are not restricted to biblical interpretation - sometimes the science is manipulated as well. Second, Ross cherry-picks scientific discoveries that can be made (through these gymnastics) to conform to a biblical worldview, while those discoveries that are difficult to conform are rejected, or even altered. Finally, and most importantly, he rejects out of hand those scientists who share a godless worldview - thus his criticism of Einstein in Chapter Two. Ross is advocating that all scientists perform their research from a biblical perspective. Incredibly, he feels that if science is conducted from a non-biblical worldview, it is not objective. Yes, you read that correctly, it is not a typo - scientific research should be conducted from the perspective of a biblical worldview, because science conducted from a godless worldview is not objective.

Ross would actually have a legitimate point if godless scientists were going around conducting research in order to prove that god doesn't exist. But those "godless" scientists are not conducting research merely to prop up their godless worldview - rather, their "godless" approach liberates them to conduct their research without any preconceived notions of god, creation and the universe. THAT is objective science. What Ross advocates is subjective science - science with filters - science with bible-colored glasses - science with preconceived conclusions. And THAT is NOT science. It's like having computer programmers test their own code - they already know the results to expect, so their tests tend to produce those expected results. And Ross is living proof of this point: if we don't remove the notion of god from our research, then we will tend to see god in every result, and every conclusion will tend to favor our known concept of god.

Take evolution for example. It is true that these "godless" scientists are not trying to prove the hand of god in biological progression. It is also true that they are not trying to DISprove the hand of god in it. In fact, god has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it. It is AFTER the scientific results are published that both camps - the god camp and the godless camp - take up their respective battle cries.

There is a reason that science is silent on the concept of god. There is no mention of god or of a creator in any published scientific paper. And that is as it should be. Others like Hugh Ross are free to take up those scientific findings and use them as proof of their canonized belief systems. But make no mistake about it, if we let these theists into the research "kitchen", they will certainly spoil the soup - and the danger is that Ross is advocating just that. But the Headmaster remains hopeful that the scientific process can withstand such intrusions, meaning that we should never see the likes of Ross in the "kitchen", as long as they seek to use science as a means to acheive a theistic end.

And here is yet another problem with Ross's approach to embracing science - he emboldens his creationist followers to claim science as their own. The Headmaster has seen this first hand in debates over evolution. Several Ross disciples have labored under on the assumption that the science Ross quotes in his book is creationist science, which it is not - it is creationists using REAL, ACTUAL science to defend a biblical workdview. These disciples have everything completely reversed, boldly claiming that creationism is science, and science is mere conjecture! I'm sure Ross would disagree with that perspective, but he is unwittingly encouraging it.

So... can you guess what's next as creationists begin to come to terms with science in this manner? In a perfect scenario, creationists accept scientific conclusions and merely leverage them to prop up their biblical worldview - end of story. But they will never be content to do just that, because the same biblical worldview tells them that god has commanded them to spread his message. Therefore, the creationists will consider themselves armed with new tools to pry their way into our classrooms. Sit back and watch it happen.

But, back to our book. The author concluded Chapter Three with what I thought to be a very good description of the beauty of the scientific process. In fact, this final section is almost poetic in its description of scientific theory. Although he applies his description to the Big Bang theory, it also beautifully describes the theory of evolution as the predictive model that it is. This section alone makes reading the book worthwhile, because it gives the reader hope for the acceptance of science among the faithful masses.

Finally, on to Chapter Four. Ross begins by stating that scientific discoveries of Big Bang have inspired scientists to exclaim that they see "the face of god" in the theory. Ross takes it a huge step further to conclude that astronomers who do NOT draw theistic conclusions from the theory are becoming RARE. Hm. He doesn't cite any data to back that conclusion however, so we'll just have to take his word on that. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to recounting twentieth-century scientific discoveries that support a Big Bang model of creation - primarily that measurement of distant radiation indicates that the universe began with a hot big bang. Moreover, light from galaxies billions of light years away provides us with a literal photo montage of the universe "growing up", as it were - yet more proof of a hot big bang. Ok already! Big Bang good.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chapter 3 - Big Bang. The Bible Taught It First!

Review of The Creator and the Cosmos: fourth in a series...

Working backward from 1965 with the detection of radiation left over from the Big Bang, the author recounts various Big Bang theorists, concluding that the first to promote the idea of Big Bang in 1925 was a Jesuit priest. It begins to seem that the whole game here is simple one-upmanship. He then goes on to say that Einstein provided the first theoretical evidence for Big Bang in 1916, with his field equations for the general theory of relativity (pre-dating the Jesuit priest by 9 years, but who's counting). However, he claims that Einstein wasn't willing to accept the cosmic beginning implied by such an ever-expanding universe, and therefore he altered his theory to align with the common wisdom of the day - an eternally existing, or static, universe.

Ok, here's where the Headmaster had had enough. Although this creationist author is to be commended for supplying references for all his claims, to this point the Headmaster had resisted the urge to check them. On this particular point, he decided to dig further. Looking up his reference to Einstein's publication of those field equations, the Headmaster read about ten pages' worth and came away with the overwhelming sense that what Einstein was doing was altering the equations to accomodate Newtonian physics - gravity. He in no way stated or implied that he had any issues with a "cosmic beginning" or even an expanding universe. However, in light of Hubble's breakthrough research on expanding universe, Einstein later admitted that those ten pages of recalculation for a cosmological constant were "the greatest blunder" of his life. *yawn* Such is the way with the scientific process - new information changes accepted theory. That's why theories and conclusions in science are never canonized. Too bad religion doesn't work the same way, but it can't because it's conclusions are canonized.

What follows can only be described as an exceptionally tedious walk through Aramaic verb conjugation. In the following pages, the author takes us through various translations of the original biblical texts to demonstrate that the following phrase from Isaiah 42:5 indicates an expanding universe: "He who created the heavens and stretched them out".


The Headmaster tried to envision the author as a 15-year old boy - fascinated as he was with the complexity of cosmology - finding this to be a "simple, direct and specific" explanation for Big Bang and an expanding universe. Anyway, while the Headmaster found the author's knowledge of ancient text and its translation to be impressive, he saw this as an unmasked and obvious attempt to make the known facts conform to a preconceived conclusion - subjective theology, not science. It is making creationism "smell" like science.

The drill goes something like this ==> Certain scientific conclusions do not conform to the ancient narrative of our biblical worldview, so we'll take potshots at those conclusions using "scientific-smelling" content to impress the faithful. However, certain scientific conclusions DO conform to the narrative of our biblical worldview - we'll cherry-pick those conclusions and use "scientific-smelling" content to communicate them to the faithful. Of course... ...we have no original scientific research of our own to back up our worldview, and we can't publish our theories in scientific journals because they'd be rejected outright for lack of data and evidence.

The Headmaster wishes to finish with an example and be done with this chapter. After pages of very impressive verb translation and conjugation, the author claims that the ancient texts are consistent with current scientific findings of an expanding universe. That was the whole purpose of the verb conjugation in the first place - to demonstrate that God's handiwork in Genesis is both finished (QAL imperfect - past tense "stretched") and ongoing (QAL active participle - future tense "stretching"). Yes, the Academy certainly learned a great deal about stretching here. Anyway, of course this sets up the author's claims that the Bible tells us of an expanding universe. But he doesn't stop there. He also claims that this "finished and ongoing" aspect of the bible's verbs also tells us that certain long-lived radiometric elements were placed into the earth's crust in just the right quantities so as to guarantee the continual building of continents. This piques the Headmasters interest - those must be some very simple, direct and specific bible passages! So, off to the old testament we go, and here are the passages cited to support that claim:

Isaiah 51:3 - So the Lord will comfort Jerusalem; He will show mercy to those who live within her ruins. He will change her deserts into a garden like Eden; He will make her empty lands like the garden of the Lord. People there will be very happy; they will give thanks and sing songs.

Zechariah 12:1 - This message is the word of the Lord to Israel. This is what the Lord says, who stretched out the skies, and laid the foundations of the earth, and put the human spirit within.

This man, with a PhD in Astronomy, is comparing mountains of scientific research on radiometric plate tectonics with ridiculously simplistic and generic biblical quotes. The gymnastics here are reaching Olympian proportion, and we're only on Chapter Three...

A Message From Our Sponsor

The Headmaster wishes to convey a few thoughts about the topic of recent posts. Organized religion is based 100% on faith. Not 99.99%, but 100%. Since we don't have .01% proof that the God of Christianity exists, our belief in that God requires 100% FAITH. Focusing solely on Christianity for the moment, all the myriad denominations depend upon faith to promote acceptance of their particular canon. There is no proof that one is right and another is wrong - if this were the case, there would be no need for all these variations. But it's all based on interpretation, and it all therefore requires faith to accept it. In this sense, faith is the very foundation of religion. Why then, do so many of the "faithful" seek to "prove" that which faith now wholly supports - basically, to seek the end of faith? Maybe these people are simply like sports fans - OUR TEAM IS THE BEST! Maybe they simply want to win - to prove that they were right, and all the others were wrong. Or maybe they feel threatened by science (or just by a couple of self-proclaimed mouthpieces for science, like Dawkins and others). But the only reason to feel threatened - in fact the only conceivable reason to seek "proof" in the first place - is because their faith is lacking.

The Headmaster can't help but think about this whenever he watches debates about science vs. religion. The author of the book under review has participated in several of these debates. It seems so pointless to argue that science "proves" Christianity. Three simple words win this debate: "I have faith". You can't argue with that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chapter 2 - My Skeptical Inquiry

Review of The Creator and the Cosmos: third in a series...

First, the Headmaster must apologize for the sarcastic tone of this chapter's review. There is simply no way to avoid it - he tried and failed. No suprise, given that he laughed out loud through the entire chapter. He finds it exceedingly difficult to treat this material with any respect whatsover, and therefore what may come off as sarcasm and disrespect to those who have not read the book, might actually be called impressive restraint by those who have.

This very short and wholly unconvincing chapter is simply meant to satisfy a requirement - the establishment of the author's "I am a converted skeptic" credentials. The author unabashedly tells us that by age 15, having researched the cosmos exhaustively, he'd drawn the following conclusion: "If the universe arose out of a big bang, it must have had a beginning. If it had a beginning, it must have had a beginner." This old classic might have a special place in the Museum of Circular Logic, if such a place existed. Taken by itself, it comes as no surprise that someone of faith might use circular logic. But taken in context of the follow-on section, the statement reveals that the author possesses one magnificent set of cosmos-sized cohones.

Up to this point, the author has painted us a misty-eyed picture of an impoverished young boy seeking the truth through his beloved books. In this subsection, we peer over the boy's shoulder as he grapples with the contradictions - here, he observes that history books show the peoples of the world taking religion very seriously, and yet here he observes that European philosophers of the Enlightenment largely discount religion. What is a poor boy to do? Of course, he looks for insight in those philosophical works, but rejects them after finding only "circular logic". At this point the headmaster, after recovering from the reflexive GASP, paused to reflect on the sheer SIZE of the cohones required to make this statement, a mere five sentences after the author penned an absolute circular masterpiece of his own.

But let's recover and move on. The boy decides that he must be fair, and thus rather than build a case on such second-hand resources as history and philosophy books, he resolves to read "the holy books of the world's major religions". He reasoned that if God the Creator were to communicate to his creations, He would do so in a clear and consistent manner, and in a way that was different from the way humans communicate. He tells us that "the first several holy books" confirmed his hunch that they were not written by a Creator, because they contained statements at odds with established history and science, and they were written in an esoteric, mysterious and vague style. He declines to enlighten us as to which holy books these were. Instead, he relates that he then stumbled upon the Bible. Seriously. It is laugh-out-loud ludicrous.

Now, we dispense with the formalities and get to the heart of the matter - the Bible. It begins to feel as though you're watching a typical porn film. (The headmaster has never seen one, but he's heard about them) The "setup" presents a thin situational drama with poor acting that leads very quickly to the action everyone is waiting for. Makes one wonder why they don't just dispense with the whole "setup" in the first place. And that's the way this book feels.

Anyway, finally we get to the "action". As you might suspect, the author found the Bible's passages to be simple, direct and specific. He was "amazed" with the quantity and detail of historical and scientific references. He claims that it took him an entire night just to investigate the first chapter, where he found that instead of "another bizarre creation myth", the chapter contained a journal-like record of the earth's initial conditions - correctly described from the standpoint of astrophysics and geophysics, followed by a summary of the sequence of changes through which the Earth came to be inhabited by living things and humans.

For anyone who's read Genesis, it seems puzzling that someone (especially someone with a PhD) might find anything even remotely resembling accepted scientific theory. God creates the sky and Earth, and darkness covers everything. Then God says "Let there be light". Then He divides the light into night and day. etc etc

The Headmaster can't go further - to do so is pointless. The wording in Genesis is certainly simple and direct, though absolutely NOT specific and NOT an accurate description of the science of big bang. You see where this is going, I'm sure. This is a setup for a) cherry-picking science to fit biblical passages; and b) cherry-picking biblical passages that suit known science; and c) ignoring completely any biblical passages that might prove contradictory or unscientific; and d) providing the necessary mental gymnastics to put it all together. et voila - we have "scientific proof" of creation, straight from the Bible.

*sigh*... If nothing else, it should be interesting to see how we get from here to there. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Chapter One - The Awe Inspiring Night Sky

Review of The Creator and the Cosmos: second in a series...

Here the author explains the fascination that the night sky has held for all of humanity, for all of time. Simple enough. However, he takes some giant leaps along the way. In the first, he explains that if the universe has no creator, then life has no meaning and morality is irrelevant. In other words, why not just go slit our collective wrists? He offers no explanation for this conclusion, and the Headmaster is left to assume that it simply reflects the author's personal opinion. Thus, from this perspective Mr. Ross rightly concludes that cosmology has enormous implications for philosophy and theology.

The author reveals a positively puzzling perspective of science that goes like this: researchers gather and examine data through a special pair of glass which he calls the "God-is-not-necessary-to-explain-anything" glasses, while other researchers gather and examine data through their "God-is-whoever-and-whatever-I-choose" glasses. He then explains that of course there are those researchers (guess who) who are willing to gather and examine data to see which theory of origins is most consistent with the facts, whatever that theory may say about the necessity and characteristics of an Originator. Aside from the dubious use of the terms "theory" and "facts", this little piece of logic demonstrates a child-like view of the scientific process. There is little reason to believe that Mr. Ross has experience with the scientific process since he hasn't conducted any original research or published any scientific findings, but still, you'd think he'd at least understand the process. Surely, science has nothing whatsoever to say about a Creator or any other aspect of theology. That is because science is rightfully silent on any unfalsifiable concept. A scientist who makes any statement regarding God would be presenting their beliefs, not their scientific conclusions. This is why there isn't a single word about God or Creation in any published scientific paper. Therefore, to suggest that it is disengenuous to approach science from a secular point of view is to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of science.

Mr. Ross then goes on to conclude that it is a mistake to separate science from philosophy and theology. From a certain perspective, this may be true. But Mr. Ross's perspective is that the latter should drive the former. Again, this shows a clear misunderstanding of the scientific process. His conclusion does not take into consideration that science is an objective discipline, while philosophy and theology are subjective pursuits. So while science may be useful in any philosophical or theological study, using philosophy or theology to inform scientific discovery, as the author suggests, would only serve to undermine the objectivity of the scientific process. Mr. Ross admits as much in the following chapter...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Review: The Creator and the Cosmos

Review of The Creator and the Cosmos: first in a series...

Recently, the Headmaster made a promise to read a book on creation - The Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross. He's heard it all before, so the exercise seems pointless, but he actually thought this might be different: an academically trained astronomer claims that scientific discoveries reveal divine creation. At face value, it seems like an interesting read.

The headmaster is only on the first page of the third of these very brief opening chapters, and he's already exhausted from the mental gymnastics employed by the author to lead the reader to his preconceived conclusions. We might have entitled this post "We Read The Creator and the Cosmos So YOU Don't Have To". You can thank the Academy with gifts and money, which would help the struggling endowment.

The headmaster's review will be posted here chapter by chapter, rather than waiting until the end. We just don't think he has the stomach to get through more than a chapter a day. In fact, we're not sure he'll get through it at all - there are far too many interesting books out there tempting him away from this one. But he promised, so we'll do our best. Who knows, in the end the faculty of the Academy may all be converts...

Back online, anon...

For a while now, the headmaster has been choosing to live an anonymous existence, in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a church-sign photographer. So it is perhaps appropriate that on this day - a day of manifest reemergence into the blogosphere - that he stumbled upon this sign at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church:

Ignoring, for a moment, the misspelling, he pauses to reflect... perhaps everything, according to this sign, is a coincidence.

This must be true, because it is certain that epiphany is when God chooses to be anomalous.