Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Funny

A friend's blog provokes ongoing debate, and I enjoy taking the opportunity to jump in every now and then. As I have been involved lately, it has occurred to me how often these debates are over whose set of presuppositions are correct, so the debate itself is pointless - few people are willing to give up their presuppositions because of a few lines on a blog somewhere, no matter how well written.

This leads to a stridency that makes the debates even less fruitful. Everyone takes the simplest, most dogmatic position, and yells invective at each other.

All of this was triggered by the following comic which gets just about everything correct. The main characters in this strip (if you have never read Frazz) are Frazz: the young single, well-read janitor at an elementary school who provides reason in the midst of the chaos; and Caulfield: the over-smart elementary schooler who provides nonsequiters to the teacher's "Any other questions?". You can find it at:

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist sends to Jesus from jail and asks if He is the awaited Messiah, or if should they look for another. Jesus responds, not with a simple "Yes" or "No" but rather with a summary of His work: the blind see, the lame walk, the poor hear the good news, and then adds an encouragement not to be offended by Him.

The word for offended here is the Greek scandalon, which means a rock that causes someone to stumble on the road. Jesus was warning John not to get caught up in His previous conceptions about Messiah. Undoubtedly, John expected a conquering King who would overthrow Rome's oppression and set up a glorious kingdom in Israel. In fact, one wonders if John was not so aggressive in condemning Herod precisely because of these expectations. Perhaps Jesus' response was going to be the moment when John would realize for the first time that he was not going to be released from prison when the Messiah set up his throne.

Jesus always surprises us. He is often less than what we expect because He is so much more than we could imagine. It was this way on the first Christmas, it is often that way in our lives.

Have a Merry Christmas. May Jesus be more than you can imagine in your life, not only in this season, but all through the year.

Psalm 26

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity,
And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Examine me, O LORD, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.

In this psalm, David is consumed by his integrity. He even goes so far as to offer to be tested, examined by the Lord to prove the depths of his innocence.

As I was reading this passage this morning, it occurred to me that David undoubtedly wrote this before Bathsheba. I doubt he ever called upon the Lord to examine him closely and prove his integrity after that incident.

I think it possible that the Lord takes such self-conscious integrity and tests it to the breaking point, so that we might not be fooled into believing that it is our goodness or righteousness that counts in His sight. He loves us, not because of anything about us except for His love. When we forget that He goes to great pains to remind us.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Scandolous Freedom

I have a very simple recommendation. Every evangelical Christian should read Steve Brown's book A Scandalous Freedom. Period.

Steve is a PhD Presbyterian who pastored for years and runs a ministry in Key Biscayne Florida. His message is simple: God means it when He says He loves us, and we cannot do anything to make Him love us either more or less. Rather remarkable for a Presbyterian, or an Evangelical. The liberals stole grace from us, Steve Brown tells us where to find it.

Go get a copy today. Read it. Then tell everyone you know about it.


I am not often this insensitive (at least not publicly).

But I just read the story about the man who set himself, a Christmas tree, and an American flag ablaze over the San Joaquin Valley school board's decision to use the names Christmas and Easter for the winter and spring holiday seasons.

My gut reaction is that I wish the fireman hadn't been there.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eragon Movie

I went and saw the movie at the first showing here in the Valley, at 10:40am at Cine Capri. Side note - I liked the old Cine Capri better. I think Harkins has better theatres than the new one even now. But I digress.

I expected to be disappointed. It is little more than an adventure the movie, and in a sense I was. The movie is too short by at least 30 minutes, probably an hour (it comes in at just over 90 minutes). And the screen writers eliminated far too many things in order to get the movie down to size. Paolini has written a decent epic-type story, the movie is not even close to epic

I don't know if I like the result. Eragon is more heroic and succeeds far more than he does in the book, and I think I liked him better in the original. They change the ending from the book, and do so in such a way that I think they probably have no intention of making the second story (Eldest) into a movie at all. I will go see it again with the rest of my family and from there I will have a better idea of whether I like the movie, not as a version of the book, but just as a fantasy adventure.

I also learned something about film making that has been bugging me for the last couple of months, but that will have to wait for another post.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I am in the middle of a book entitled The Limitations of Scientific Truth, by Nigel Brush. I initially bought it because it looked from the table of contents like it covered a range of topics that I need to learn more about. I figured it to be a dry read. Not so. The author is a very engaging writer who takes a host of complex philosophical topics and condenses them into a nice package.

One of his points is that modern science has no solid ground for asserting that it finds truth. This is not his opinion, this is the current state of the world. All of the attempts at finding a solid philosophical basis for the scientific method have come up empty. Essentially, the only reason we believe the findings of science is because we choose to believe them.

Philosophy does not fare much better. The last century of philosophical thought has been forced to acknowledge that we cannot evaluate philosophical perspectives by any objective standard. If my belief system differs from yours, no external ruler exists in philosophy to measure them and find which is superior. Basically, if I believe something different than you, it is only because I choose to do so.

The only other source of information available to humans is revelation. Which of course cannot be measured by any external tools, and is therefore accepted or rejected entirely on faith. Now I don't have any problem with that - I know that my decision to accept the teachings of Scripture are first and foremost an act of faith. I have examined them and believe that they are likely correct. Yes, it is true that they work for me (except when they don't seem to), and there is an element of confirmation that I believe God gives to those who choose to follow the truth. But in the end, following the Scriptures is an act of faith.

I just find it very nice to know that science and philosophy are as much faith-based systems as Christianity.

At least we admit it.

Cultural differences

In my post on Forgiveness, I posted an addendum on multiculturalism. One of the follow-up comments put forth the view that one source of contention between cultures is the defensiveness that comes from being the "out," or minority view. The solution then, is for the dominant culture to reach out with support to the minority.

But what if the dominant culture really IS superior? Perhaps its superiority is precisely WHY it is dominant. Is such supportiveness reasonable in this context?

I do not accept the premise that all cultures are equivalent. Does anyone really contend that any human being really believes this? Even the multiculturalists must believe that their view that every culture is of equivalent value is superior to any alternative, parochial view. Humans cannot function absent belief that their perspective is accurate. This is why honest nihilists tend to commit suicide. But you see, if there is a clear difference between my perspective and yours, I am obligated at least to examine them and upon examination to adopt the one that is superior. This is why I blog.

This goes even deeper if there is a reason, moral or otherwise, for the two cultures to conflict. If their perspective are diametrically opposed, then the conflict is likely inevitable. And if they are mutually exclusive, then one or the other must be false and should be abandoned. I believe in the existence of absolute truth, so it is not possible to opposite premises to both be true.

It is, of course, possible for humans to be respectful in spite of their differences. It is one of the foundations on which Western civilization has been built. But if the non-dominant culture picks a fight, even from an understandable defensiveness, then it will be difficult for the dominant culture to sit quietly by and be called names. That is very much where American culture finds itself today.

Friday, December 08, 2006


A friend of mine recently posted an interesting article on the subject of forgiveness. This post started as a comment on hers, but grew too large to fit, so I moved it into my blog.

This basic issue revolves around the question of whether society can extend forgiveness to a murderer who has truly repented before being caught (in this case, 9 years after the murder). My friends and I agree that the answer, in short, is "no". I think this is part of what it means for us to have a secular government. Our legal system must deal only with justice, we do not have the wisdom to administer corporate forgiveness.

I think the idea here is that we can only practice morality in our personal lives. In the larger framework of society, we must act on principles. And the principle here is that the guilty must be punished. The validity of this principle is demonstrated consistently throughout history in society after society. What then, are Christians to do with the Christian call to forgiveness? What if the judge, the DA, and all the members of the jury were Christians? Could they let the accused go free?

I still contend that the answer is "no." The Christian morality that calls for forgiveness can only be practiced on a personal, relational level. This is not to say that Christianity has no place in society - clearly our principles are shaped by the morality found within the Bible. It is just that moral acts are inherently personal. You achieve a moral society, not by legislating moral behavior, but by developing moral individuals. It is then incumbent on those individuals to elucidate from their morality and their history the principles that will best govern society. This is basically the pattern outlined by our founding fathers.

Herein lies one of the great benefits of a pluralistic society. In such a society, it is possible to draw from the moral backgrounds of a wide range of cultures to find the principles that have proven most effective in building a stable society. This is so important because humans are notoriously bad at finding the right principles to govern based on their morality. I have asserted this over and over about Christianity, but it is true of every religious tradition; they are notoriously bad at managing secular power. If we could ever learn to stop yelling at each other, we in America might be able to find our way back to the place where we can negotiate our shared principles. But I dream...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I have just finished reading Eragon and Eldest, the 2 fantasy novels by Christopher Paolini. While they are billed as children's novels, I found that I really enjoyed them (especially Eragon, Eldest is the second novel in a trilogy, and suffers from all the issues common to such stories). I think one of the reasons I enjoyed them so much is that the hero, the young man named Eragon, is not a flawed hero. He is basically a good person, his only weaknesses are those of youth - he is 15 and 16 in the novels - not of character.

This got me thinking a bit about heroic characters. I can see that we need our heroes to be slightly flawed, both because we are flawed and cannot relate to a perfect hero, and also because so many of these stories involve the redemption of the hero. But popular culture has become so enamored with truly flawed heroes that it is hard to find someone you can really look up to. Perhaps those of you who read my blog can name for me a hero from either print or film in recent years who is at most mildly flawed. If you have read Eragon, can you name a hero like him?

My problem is that when I consume these stories, I find myself wanting a character that I can root for through the good and bad. Someone for whom, when something bad happens, I can feel it is truly unjust. Someone who feels like a redeemer to me, and not just another sinner.

Great stories resonate with us because they mirror the greatest of all stories - redemption. I have grown lately to feel that our culture only tells one side of the story, the side the Greeks told, of the tragic, almost accidental redemption of a flawed hero. But the full story includes the remarkable, miraculous redemption of a flawed world by a hero who suffered tragedy, not because he deserved it, but because He took it for us that we might be redeemed.

Eragon doesn't exactly tell this story, but it is closer than I have seen for a while. It was refreshing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I recently came again across the quote from Ghandi when asked why he never accepted Christ even though he so often quoted Jesus' words. He responded "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." I have 2 thoughts on this.

First, I have always seen this used to call us Christians to act more like Christ. This is, of course, a valid point. We so often look to impact our culture by beating them into submission, when Jesus' method was to love them. Just love them. Not love them to change them, but just to love them. They often changed, but that wasn't his point. God loves all men, and the more we authentically love men, the more effective we will be in proclaiming Christ.

But second, I think Ghandi was not being honest. Surely he did not apply the principle that all men must unfailingly act on their convictions to those closest to him. In moments of self-honesty, he surely did not even apply this principle to himself. All men fail, and fail consistently, to be who they proclaim themselves to be. Often, we claim to be what we want to be, rather than what we are. We are not being hypocrites, we are being human. I have heard it said that we judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions. This is unfair both to us and to others.

But more than that, Ghandi looked only where he wanted to look. Every movement has people whose membership has less to do with adherence to core principles than it does to social or political expediency. But if you look in the places where Jesus spent His time, you will more often than not find the people who are most like Him. Had Ghandi allowed himself to compare those people to the words and message of Christ, he would have had less of an excuse for ultimately rejecting the claims of Christ.

It is my desire to be one of those Christians. Because I don't want to get in the way. But if you are looking at me, or any other person, to reflect Jesus perfectly, stop looking in the wrong place. Look to Jesus, and let Him change you as you surrender yourself to Him, and then you can begin to reflect Him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Selective Ignorance

I was reading articles on the web instead of doing the work that I needed to do (mostly because what I need to do is tedious and uninteresting), and I came across an article by a similar name written by one of my favorite computer geeks, Andrew Koenig. This guy is almost legendary to programmers like myself, plus he actually writes very lucidly.

Anyways, I come across this article, where he makes the observation that given the choice between haphazard ignorance and selective ignorance, he would choose selective ignorance any time.

As Koenig says, we all practice selective ignorance in real life. Otherwise, we would be overwhelmed by details at every turn. It got me to wondering if sometimes we don't practice intentional ignorance, which is an altogether different thing. Selective ignorance says "I can ignore this issue right now; it is irrelevant to the task at hand." Intentional ignorance says "I don't want to know the truth; I would rather remain comfortably in this place I have always been."

For much of the last couple of years, the Lord has been impressing on me the importance of living life intentionally, rather than accidentally. Given the choice between selective ignorance and haphazard, I'm with Koenig. But given the choice between intentional ignorance and truth...

So I have to be intentional about not being intentionally ignorant. Hmmmm, my head is starting to hurt.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Youth sports

Both boys had basketball games today. Daniel's was exciting, won by our kids with an 11-0 run at the end of the game. The other team had a 13-year-old that stands 6' 1" and can already play. I expect to hear about him a lot the next 4 years. Daniel covered him for a little over 1/2 a quarter, with the task of just using as much energy as he could to harass the kid. Daniel did a great job.

Michael's game was against a team that they have already played once, and will play again. NYS apparently doesn't have anyone on staff that can schedule a season.

Anyways, the coach of the other team is pretty aggressive. His kids play well, but he is a little irritating on the sidelines. Michael's coach really wanted to beat him, at least in part because of his personality.

Daniel and I kept score, which means that we were just 5-10 feet from him most of the game. I found myself getting irritated with the comments he would make to his kids: "you take it right to them and run over them," "you can take him," other comments, appropriate for older kids, a little much for 10-year-olds. At one point, the coach tells me I got the score wrong, but I hadn't, so I said to him "I got it coach. I got the right score." I admit, I was frustrated with him, but not aggressive. Then, in the third quarter, one of our kids tries to put up a shot and gets nothing on it, so it falls way short, and he says (a little too loudly for my taste) "He's got nothing!" So I turn, and in a very mild tone (as pastoral as I could manage) "You know coach, they're just 10."

Now, I probably should have shut up. Really, I should have. Both coaches were emotional, the head ref was getting more and more irritated with both of them, and I really didn't need to jump in. But I hate to see kids games treated like they actually matter. Sure, the kids like to win, but most of them forget the losses within minutes. They just want to learn to play. And I thought this coach crossed a line.

You should have seen the eruption. There are probably tsunami warnings along the Pacific Rim as a result of it. He starts screaming at the head official, "I want him off the score table!" Over and over again. Fortunately, the head official knows me, and so after explaining very firmly to the coach that he has no intention of acceding to his demands, he walks over and asks me what happened, then offers that perhaps I could refrain from commentary. Which I did.

Happy ending. The coach comes up to me after and apologizes. Very nicely. I accepted his apology, but did not offer one of my own. I don't think I had anything more than bad timing. And I am hoping that the coach takes a moment to reflect.

I will get to find out, we play them again in a couple of weeks. I will remind the official of all that happened, and suggest an up-front approach that might help defuse things.

I intend to keep score.

OSU Michigan

Halftime. 28-14. Wow, I knew that Troy Smith was a good quarterback, but it looks right now like there is nothing Michigan can do to stop him. The commentators are talking about applying pressure, but to watch him play, you figure he will just kill them with 3-5 yards throws.

Of course, this is OSU-Michigan, and there is still a half to go.


This will probably surprise no one who knows me, but I occasionally have visions of more than moderate fame (probably why God has not given it to me). But experiences like Rick Warren's with Syria give me another good reason to avoid fame. I am certain he meant well, and had hoped to do something useful, but for all of his wisdom and insight, it appears he was in over his head.

Makes me wonder, Pastor Warren could have used advise from someone more skilled in deception and propaganda than he. Probably shouldn't keep someone like that on retainer, but...

Football - OSU vs. Michigan

I don't think you can ever cease to be either an Ohio State or Michigan fan, at least not on the last Saturday of the regular season when the 2 teams face off once again. Growing up in Ohio, I knew Michigan's fight song better than Ohio State's because we made up insulting lyrics to Michigan's song.

I don't follow OSU as closely as I once did, but today they play as 1 and 2 in the biggest game in college football in several years. I can hardly wait.

Coincidences, again

I find the notion of coincidences interesting. If God is truly sovereign and all actions are under His control. then any apparent coincidence is just part of God's all-encompassing plan, right? But what about things like the story Asimov tells relating the discovery of Mercury to the ancient Greek myths of Kronos and Zeus? Surely this qualifies as a coincidence.

But my interest here is of a slightly different sort. I have come to suspect that much of what we call coincidence is nothing more than our perceptions filtered by our expectations. For example, in politics, we will tend to value only the evidence that supports our theory, while discounting as insignificant or of lesser quality those facts that do not support us. Voila! All the evidence is on our side.

This is not supposed to carry over into science, but it does. The truth is that there is very good data that supports a very old universe, and some good evidence that supports a young universe. There are reasons to believe in evolution, and reasons not to. The quantum theory of nature has proven to be extremely effective in predicting the way certain phenomena occur, but still has some maddening implications that are so counter-intuitive as to leave one scratching one's head (assuming your brain hasn't exploded from trying to think about it). There are reasons to believe in global warming, and there are reasons to think it is all bad extrapolation from insufficient measurements.

So where does that leave us? I think we have to listen to those who disagree with us. Even as believers, we need to hear from those who do not believe; not because they can inform our understanding of God's revelation, but because they can help us to understand how someone else might perceive His revelation, and we can more effectively communicate.

Strange, this has nothing to do with coincidences. That will have to be for another post.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Haggard clarified

My original post about the Ted Haggard scandal was meant to address only the issue of how we might initially react to the news. It intentionally said nothing about how the process might proceed. A number of people have asked me informally about this, and then one person made some very good comments on the subject, to I thought I would take the chance to say some of the unsaid things.

There is clearly a need for some time in this process. The hurts that he himself is dealing with, along with those of the members of his family, congregation, and the community that he impacts, all require time and space for healing. While in some circumstances the healing process might proceed while the man remains in the pulpit, it is almost certainly not the case here. So time away from the pulpit is probably necessary, not because he cannot minister at this time, but because he (and everyone else) cannot heal should he remain in the pulpit at this time.

I am less comfortable with the notion that this sin "disqualifies" him from the pulpit at this time. This is a big deal, and has wide-ranging consequences, some of which certainly make pulpit ministry very difficult. These things conspire to make the pulpit unavailable to him, so I guess in a way he is currently disqualified. But I say this with many caveats. I think we cannot allow ourselves ever to forget the we do not minister out of our purity, but in the embrace of the grace of God in the midst of our sin. It is not our purity, but His mercy, that qualifies us for the work of the Kingdom.

Still, it would seem to me that it is best for everyone that he not be in the pulpit right now. I just wonder what will happen when the time comes (should it ever some) that he prepares to re-enter the pulpit.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lessons from Sudoku

Now, I do not work Sudoku puzzles as a hobby. I do not need one more thing to take up my time any more than I need (as my parents used to say) a hole in my head. But I will work a puzzle if I have some time, like I did on the airplane coming back from Sacramento.

Because I do not work the puzzles regularly, even the easiest puzzles are hard for me. I generally figure out all the possibilities for a collection of squares, and then use logic to deduce the actual values. Yesterday, I did this for a while when it occurred to me that I might instead figure out what I needed in a particular row, column, or square, and from there figure out where each of those needs could be placed.

The result was remarkable. I finished the puzzle I was working on in a matter of minutes (after spending 30-40 up to that point) and moved through the next puzzle (which was supposed to be harder) almost effortlessly. Trust me when I tell you that I have never worked a puzzle so quickly.

And I got to thinking. I do this in my own life a lot. I spend a lot of energy investigating all the options, rather than just figuring out what I need and how best to achieve those things. There are, most of the time, just too many possibilities, but very few needs. Jesus said something like that to Martha.

I haven't worked any more Sudokus (I'm back to my real life now), so the approach may not always work. Just like it won't always work in my life. But it can work, and that's enough for right now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Change for change's sake

If you know me, you know that I am a pretty staunch fiscal conservative, holding that markets are reasonably efficient and can be trusted to respond not only to financial but even social pressures without the need for governmental interference. I believe that governmental agencies move much more slowly than most markets, so relying on government to push social change is much less effective in general than relying on markets.

I am also an environmental skeptic, taking nearly all the current furor over environmental damage with more than a little salt, figuring that we know way less than anyone is willing to admit about these things, and that many of the suggestions being tossed around are both unlikely to really be effective, and unlikely to be ultimately implemented because of long-term cost. Besides, the progress already being made in this country by industry responding to social pressure is much greater than the prophets of doom are willing to admit (notice I can say all these things without any documentation -- isn't the web wonderful!!!).

All that being said, I am wondering if there might not be some benefit that may come from the current changes in Washington. A recent issue of Scientific American (September 2006) is devoted entirely to climate change, CO2 emissions in particular. And it got me to thinking that there might be some good ideas out there that aren't being considered right now because of core philosophy. And maybe a change in philosophy might open the door for one or two of these good ideas to be tried. This is where the slow pace of governmental movement become a benefit. There is no way all the weird ideas of the environmental left will be able to be implemented, which is fine with me. But this change will let us at least toss some new ideas out and see if any stick. Only a fool would believe that there are no good ideas out there from the left, just like only a fool would believe that there are no good ideas out there from the right. Our presuppositions and filters keep us from seeing even the plainest of truths at times.

So it should be fun. Hopefully, some good things will happen. We will see.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The election

I wasn't going to say anything. After all, there are more than enough pundits to explain it all. But one small observation I have made today helps explain why I remain proudly a Republican.

We got smacked yesterday. But today, I do not hear cries of "cheat" or threats to contest every election. Even the incumbent Republican in VA, Allen, is considering conceding to keep from dragging it out. While I am not proud of everything they do, there is a core sense of personal responsibility in the Republican party that is absent in large part from the Democrats. That is why, when we lose, we ask "what did we do wrong?" but when the other side loses, they ask "what did you do wrong?" We accept the blame, they (generally) shift it.

If you cannot humble yourself to learn a lesson when you lose, then you have wasted a good whipping.

The next (already broached) heresy

I had been considering this for my next heresy when the Ted Haggard story broke, and so I used that as my platform for this heresy. Then Scott suggested that I call it my next heresy, not knowing that it already was. So here goes.

What if...

What if the Bible's message of grace actually extends to sinners?

What if, when Paul says that there is "no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." he actually means it?

What if the "nothing" that can separate us from the love of God includes our own sin?

What if the reason that God picked sinful men like Abraham and David as men of faith is that all he had to work with were sinful men?

What if the Biblical assertion that "our righteousness is like filthy rags" actually means that God does not have any unrealistic expectations? That He expects us to sin because we are sinners?

What if Paul was serious when he said that he was totally incapable of defeating sin?

What if God loves us, not because we are lovable, but just because He love us?

What if the assertion in Ted Dekker's book Obsessed, that God is obsessed with loving men, is correct?

Would it have any impact on the way I treat myself, or the way I treat others, if I really, honestly, truly believed that God's grace is for me -- because He knows me, He knows I sin, He knows I will always sin, but He wants me to be His friend anyways?

Could I love a disgraced man more easily if I knew not only that he was a sinner, but that I was a sinner as well?

Can I hope to be happier, more content with who I am, more at peace with myself and God, unless I accept the reality of my nature, not as an excuse to keep on sinning, but as an excuse to run to my Savior, who does not reject me in my sin, but died for me there?

What if He loves me when I am imperfect?

Would it make any difference?

Monday, November 06, 2006

I know! I know!

I'm listening to the radio this morning, and I hear a promo for an upcoming special broadcast. "Are you feeling, tired, sluggish, worn out, just drained? Listen to some expert on the subject this Sunday at 4:00 am for the answer."

Ooooh, ooooh, call me! Call me!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ted Haggard

So, the news comes out that Ted Haggard may have paid for gay sex over the last 3 years. Now, before I begin, let me say that I have never met Ted Haggard, have never read anything he has written, have never seen nor heard him speak. He even graduated from ORU 2 years before I arrived. I have driven by his church in Colorado Springs on a number of occasions, and even used the bathroom there once. But I do not know the man and know very little about him. So I have no way of knowing if the allegations about him are true, or if this guy is a plant designed to suppress evangelical votes next week. But I have some thoughts on the matter, and this seems as good an opportunity as any to talk about them.

First, let me say that if it turns out to be true, my heart goes out to Rev. Haggard, his family and the church. To him, because it is nearly a universal truth that men engage in homosexual behavior because of a history of sexual abuse, and I hurt for the pain he must be in. For his family, because this will be very difficult for them to get through, and if it is true, may rip his family apart. There are 2 sins in the Christian community that are worse than blaspheming the Holy Spirit: homosexuality and divorce (not that they should be, but we have really gotten confused about this one). If these allegations are true, he may find himself involved in both. And finally, my heart breaks for the church for this is likely going to be a very difficult time as the world scrutinizes them, and any sense of family that the church enjoys may be shattered.

But beyond this, these allegations do not bother me. I do not, for example, believe that this necessarily disqualifies him from his pulpit. Obviously, this is a decision that the church members and leadership will need to make for themselves; but if I were there, I would support him remaining in the pulpit if he so desires. I mean, all he has done is sinned. Like we all do. Every day. Your pastor does. I have lately been reading a book by Steve Brown called A Scandalous Freedom. In it, Brown presents the scandalous proposition that we are in fact all sinners, that God knows it and loves us and uses us anyways. So it matters not a whit to me that Rev. Haggard's sin (should this prove to be true) is now well-known. Thank God my sins are not. And each of you should be equally glad that your sins are not so publicly well-known.

But, you may say, it's that sin. Oh really. Have you noticed what God lumps with that sin? No? You should read 1 Corinthians 6. Greedy, deceptive, speaking evil. These are mentioned in the same phrase as homosexual behavior. Or how about Romans 1:28-31? Here we have gossip and breaking promises. You see, I firmly believe that God himself is not nearly as offended by homosexual behavior as we are. We say "I love the sinner and hate the sin." I wonder if we might not all be better off loving the sinner and hating our own sin, leaving everyone else's sins between themselves and God.

Pastor Haggard, as the leader of the Evangelical movement, has been outspoken in his support for amendments banning gay marriage. If these allegations are true, I do not believe this disqualifies him as a spokesman. If the rule was that one cannot speak on an issue unless one has purity in all aspects of that issue, then no one could preach the whole gospel. The truth is not less the truth just because I (or anyone else) am unable to live it out. This is the fundamental premise of non-relative morality - truth is truth whether I believe it (or live it) or not. Rev. Haggard's struggles (if they turn out to be true) do not make his voice less meaningful on this issue.

But (I hear some of you saying) this public sin ruins our witness! What will the world think when they find out that we aren't perfect? Well, first of all, they already knew that. The only people who really thought we were perfect were in the church, and our attitude and pretention has made us unbearable. By pretending that we do not sin, we isolate the lost, who believe that they cannot be welcome because they still sin; we marginalize ourselves because a moment's reflection tells every non-believer that the sinlessness is a sham; and we set ourselves up for ridicule when someone sees us sin. Think of the problems Bill Bennett faced when his gambling habit came out. It amazed me then, and continues to amaze me now, that any believer was surprised to find out that Bill Bennett actually sins. Just because he has studied virtue doesn't mean he has mastered it. And when we pretend that our leaders are sinless, we guarantee that they cease to be heard when someone finds out that they are not.

I sincerely want these allegations to be not true. Because the people in Ted Haggard's life will have so much to struggle through if they are. Shoot, even if they aren't true, the simple fact that they have been raised is going to have a profound effect on a great many people. But if they are true, I pray that Rev. Haggard will not only find grace at the throne of God (it is always there and always free), but that he will also find it from the people of God, from whom it can sometimes be harder to find.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Continuing on the line of heresies, I have recently read a short booklet by a man named Ralph Woodrow addressing three interesting topics from the Bible. One of the three is the question of whether Satan is in fact a fallen angel.

I've got to be honest with you, I didn't even know you could be an evangelical and believe otherwise. I figured the only people who disagreed with the premise would be those who didn't believe in Satan at all.

But Woodrow addresses the subject very carefully and methodically. Actually, this isn't surprising, as he shows the same care with every topic on which I have read his writings. He begins with the classic passages in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, and shows that they are much more naturally read as speaking of the humans to whom they are addressed, and that there is no need to read any reference to Satan into them. He then proceeds to argue that other passages typically used to speak of Satan as a fallen angel have preferred interpretations as well.

Now, I haven't done my own work on this yet. I will very soon, since I'm going to speak on angels and demons Sunday night in my Great Themes of the Bible series, but for now, it sure is an interesting thought. What if Satan was created by God to serve as the tempter? Would that change anything?

107 Reconsidered

I posted my thoughts on prop 107 recently, and now I find myself reconsidering. Mostly because a couple of friends have taken considerable time to explain why the prop isn't as bad as I had thought. While I still retain my concerns with the evangelical church's approach to homosexuals in other ways, and will probably come back to them later, I can see that this proposition is probably close to the bare minimum needed to make the point, so I will, in fact vote for prop 107.

Thanks Dave & Don.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another Heresy

I'm not sure which heresy Jeff was talking about, so I'm just gonna pick one. I recently suggested voting against all the Arizona ballot propositions except maybe 107. Now I'm reconsidering 107. Here's why. As I understand it, not only would the prop put language in the state constitution defining that the term marriage would refer only to one man and one woman, but would also forbid the giving of benefits to state workers who are not married. It's the last part that gets me.

You see, I would be fine if we could just agree that the term marriage already has a meaning, and let it alone. Devise new civil contracts that allow for more flexibility in defining how our money is managed. It seems to me that government's best role in this whole issue is to stay out. Just let each person decide who gets their money, whether in the form of inheritance or benefits. Let each company decide whether they will limit who can share in the benefits pool. As for inheritance, why not just let people give their money (most of which was already taxed as income) away to whomever they want without any taxes?

As a Christian, my problem with this whole thing is that we end up saying something I hope we don't mean when we adopt all of 107. We are saying that one sin (yes, I am calling homosexuality a sin) must be separated out and made unique. Now I understand that in some way we have been forced into this position by those who demand that we accept what is essentially a private matter in a very public way. And I react powerfully against such pressure. But the thing is, I know far more people who have been severely damaged by gossip, but we pretty much ignore that one. Or lying. Or petty thievery (taxes anyone?). We say with our actions that homosexuals are worse than other sinners. I have, as of late, become much more aware of where there is a tendency to sin in my life, and while I would like to find someone else whose sins are worse than mine, that's not how it works.

I'm still debating, but I think I may make it a clean sweep and vote against them all. If they will resubmit 107 with just the definition, that would be different.

For me, at least, it would be.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Heresies I'm Considering

Recently, Jeff posted an article on heresy. It was kind of strange to see, because I have been thinking a lot myself about heresies that I am mulling over. So he inspired me to go ahead and admit to some of them. I'm going to take one at-a-time, in part to give all of you the chance to recover from each before I go on to the next.

What I mean by a heresy is simply a perspective that many in the evangelical community would reject without even considering its merits. On the big issues: the nature of redemption, the person of Jesus, the authority of Scripture, I'm not going anywhere. But I think about lots of different issues, and read extensively, and for some reason lately I have been seeing more and more people writing "outside the box." Evangelicals. It warms my heart, because we as a group tend to transfer authority, just as Jeff said. So it's nice to know that there are thinking evangelicals as well.

Recently, I read a book entitled The Age of the Universe: What are the Biblical limits? by Gorman Gray. Now, the book itself was very difficult to read (he really needed a good editor), but his premise is interesting: he proposes a reading of Genesis 1:1-2 wherein the entire cosmos, along with an incomplete Earth, are created first, followed by an unspecified time period before the 6 day creation of the biosphere between 6,000-8,000 years ago.

His proposal requires a global flood to explain the fossil record, but there are good arguments in the book. Maybe he's right, maybe the universe is very old, but the biosphere very young. The reasons to believe in a very old universe and earth are very compelling, and for the all research on a young earth done at ICR, their results are still very limited in scope. It's not necessarily because they are wrong, they just have phenominally limited budgets. But I cannot get excited about much of their work, as it is mostly model building at this time.

And right now, things like supernovae, and red shifts, and billion year old radioisotopes are more easily explained by a really old universe.

So I'm thinking about the age of the universe, and considering the possibility, considered heretical by many, that the universe may be really, really old. No evolution here, no pre-adamic races, nothing like that. Just maybe a God who isn't afraid to let processes run for a while. One who created and waited, just like in my life He so often moves and then allows the process to play itself out before He intervenes.

Somthing like that, anyways.

I probably shouldn't talk about this publicly, but we're all friends here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm sitting in staff meeting yesterday in our church's library. I look over at the bookshelf, and I notice 2 books sitting next to each other, and I couldn't help but laugh.

Book 1: In the Name of Satan, by Bob Larsen.
Book 2: In the Grip of Grace, by Max Lucado.

I pointed this out to the staff, all of whom thought it very funny. In fact, funnier than I had thought it was. Which was nice, because sometimes we all need someone to laugh harder than we do, just to make sure we enjoy life more than we would otherwise.

But really, when you think about it, which presentation of the Kingdom of God is more likely to draw people to Christ? I know Satan is active, but when we spend too much time thinking about him, we forget that God is active as well, even moreso, and He wins.

But even so, the contrast really is funny, don't you think?

Kutcher, revisited

So, Scott took exception with my harassment of Ashton Kutcher, so I thought I would explain.

You see, the (unspoken) point of my blog was that sometimes we all feel the need to take ourselves more seriously than necessary in an effort to make sure other people take us seriously. This tendency becomes more pronounced the less serious we perceive the activity we are involved in to be.

The really ironic thing here is that I thought about making this point in my blog, when I realized I would be falling into the very trap I was railing against. So I decided to leave the point unmade. Now it is not.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One Antler?!?!?!

The comics have a special section for kids, and it has, among other things, a short interview with someone they think kids will be interested in. This week it was Ashton Kutcher, asking him about his role voicing Elliot, the deer in Open Season. And they ask him "What drew you to Elliot?" Instead of being honest, and answering, "The paycheck," he answers "Well, I think it was the fact that he had only one antler. I think we all feel sometimes like we have only one antler." Please.

Monday, October 16, 2006


You know, I really wanted to be a Cardinals fan this year. They brought in good players, drafted Matt Leinart, and built one of the nicest stadiums in the country right in my backyard (almost literally). But they have broken the hearts of their fans for years, and it appears this will be no exception. How did they lose tonight? They did everything right except for 4 plays. Just 4! And those 4 plays decided the game.

Not to be too preachy, but there is probably a lesson in life. To be honest, no one expects this team to win. After all, they never have. So why should big games like this be any different. I wonder if most of us don't live our lives with the same expectation. I hope I don't.

I will keep hoping, at least in part because I have no one else to root for. But it is tough watching this team almost win week after week.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


My eldest son is participating in our church's Royal Rangers program. He is working hard to gain the highest achievement level in the shortest time period. Today, he participated in the district-wide Ranger of the Year competition. It involved a test over 4 broad areas of knowledge, a 3-5 minute talk on three elements of discipleship, uniform inspection, and other demonstrations of Ranger-ness.

Anyways, he received the second-highest score in his age group, just barely falling short of moving on to the next level (state competition). I am exceedingly proud of him, not just for his score, but for giving it his best. I was there, and I watched him move from station to station, interact with the adults and other boys, and generally behave exceedingly well. I'd like to think it was great parenting, but he's a good kid, and there are lots of other adults who have had a hand in this as well (not the least of whom are the men who lead our Rangers program). Thanks guys, and great job son!

Friday, October 13, 2006


I believe in them, by the way.

Anyways, I have begun playing around a little with composing photographs for use on our church's bulletin cover. There were a number of requests for my first cover, so I placed it on the church's web site in multiple sizes so that people could use it for a desktop background image. This is the image that appears to the left. All the the pictures on it are free stock photos from stock.xchng, composed using Photoshop. Easy enough.

About a week later, I discovered a photo I took 2 years ago on vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and wanted to use it, unchanged, as a cover photo for the bulletin. So today, I dutifully opened it, added a scripture reference and a couple of subtle effects, and uploaded it in all of the necessary resolutions to the church's site. This is the one to the right of the post. After I was all done, I noticed something: the two shots are of nearly identical rivers. Oh, the trees are different species, and the one has shallower water, but the general shape of the treeline, and the bend in the river, and the angle from which they were shot, are incredibly similar. I'm sure there is a principle of design and composition in there somewhere, and it is probably related to the golden ratio as I used to teach my students, but I haven't taken the time yet to figure out what it might be.

But I find it kinda funny, and kinda weird that my first two forays into this process start with such similar photos. What deep need in me is met by this image of a river running through a forest? Is there some Freudian or Jungian meaning? Perhaps it is nothing so deep at all; maybe my design skills are so limited that I can only work with this particular theme.

Either way, I found it intriguing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Here in Arizona, we have followed California in the experiment in direct democracy known as ballot initiatives. I do not know what benefit this may have in other places, but in Arizona it at least reduces the number of truly stupid things our legislators can do. You see, it is generally our practice to send to our legislature only those citizens who are incapable of intelligent thought, so we really try to keep them from actually doing anything while there.

But back to my point. This year there are 19 propositions on the ballot. 19!!! If you would like to see the publication from the State about them, you can click here. Some are downright silly (there is one that would place restrictions on calf and hog farms -- this in spite of the fact that there are none in Arizona). There are two pairs of propositions that address the same issue in different ways, and it is possible that both could pass. I dutifully read the various propositions and arguments for and against, and have come to a conclusion: I am going to vote against them all (except for 107).

Now I have been leaning in this direction for some time. The reasoning is very simple: we really don't need more rules. And the law of unintended consequences all but guarantees that something bad is going to happen in at least one, and likely every case where we pass one of these propositions. So I am going to vote against them all. Let's try and figure out how to make the current democracy work before we go messing around with it.

I'm thinking of running for office on the platform of promising to do nothing - to actually vote against every law proposed, to actively campaign for restricting the action of government. Not, mind you, because I am a libertarian, but because I've been around long enough to know that we don't know how to manage our own lives as individuals, there is no way we can succeed in managing the lives of all of us in this great nation.

And let me encourage both of you who read my blog and are citizens of Arizona, to join me in voting against all the propositions this year and every year.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I had the opportunity to preach Sunday morning at my church. My Senior Pastor fell ill Saturday evening, and I received the dreaded call at 8:15 pm asking me if I can cover for him the next morning. Now, this doesn't happen very often, maybe 3 times in the 8-9 years I have been on staff, but I generally have something in mind that I could preach on should the need arise. In this case, I had just seen the movie Facing the Giants, and was already contemplating extracting a message on the subject of facing our fears when my pastor called.

I went for a brief walk, praying the God would give me something to talk about. Now, I have had the opportunity over the years to work with a number of young preachers, and one thing I tell them all is that they should write their conclusion first. After all, if you don't know where you're going, you're not likely to get anywhere useful. By the time I got back home, I had a conclusion: "God wants to change the world through you; if you will face your fears, He will give you the ability to overcome them, and use them to do just that." Not much, but at least a start. Enough for me to go to bed and sleep for a few hours.

The next morning, I put a few items down on paper, things people might be afraid of. I briefly considered what the Bible says about these things, reviewed the story of Joshua from chapter 1 of the book bearing his name, and figured I might mention 1 Corinthians 15:58, and Romans 8. But beyond that, I really didn't have any idea how it would go.

But God is so amazingly faithful. We have 2 services, and extemporizing to that extent in 2 services without trying to reproduce the first service in the second service is very difficult. But I felt His direction, watched as I moved from one point to another, and was ready to wrap up exactly at the end of the service. Second service, I just started with a different point, and a "different but same" message resulted. After I was done, I was just amazed at the things that were only a part of one of the two services.

I used to extemporize most of the time that I preached, but I found that I got lazy, and began to depend on my ability to think on the fly, rather than be prepared with something that people could follow and walk away with. In an effort to fix that, I began forcing myself to use PowerPoint. I think the result has been very positive, but I may come off at times more like a lecturer than a preacher. It is interesting to me that the last two times that I have had to preach with little or no prep time have been exceedingly well received.

This brings me to my point. Where is the balance between preparation and inspiration for me? Even with PowerPoint, I leave a lot of space in my messages. And I often feel under-prepared. Then there are the men that I admire as preachers who clearly have significantly more prepared than I do, yet whose messages are always compelling and challenging. Perhaps I have fallen into the worst-possible place: just sufficiently prepared to squelch my natural speaking gifts, but not sufficiently prepared to really produce the best that I am capable of. Perhaps it is unreasonable to compare the messages I give on a regular basis with plenty of prep time to those that I preach without prep but with God's amazing mercy because of schedules.

But if the latter, I still want to find the place where I experience His mercy, even when I have plenty of time. Not sure I'm there yet.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Really, I don't intend to talk only about communication in this blog, but it keeps coming up (probably has to do with the impending elections). Today, I am listening to the radio. Dennis Prager has a guest on from Berkeley, and they are talking about the guest's new book on freedom. I listen as Dennis talks to the guy for about 15 minutes, and I find it the most frustrating experience I have had lately. I turn off the radio and think about the interchange when it hits me - the two men were using the same words, but with subtly different meanings. Dennis is using words like "freedom" and "logic" with their traditional meanings. The professor from Berkeley has adopted slightly different meanings for these words. But he denies that he is doing so. Rather, he contends that it is Dennis, who is insisting that the words mean what they have always meant, who is not understanding.

As I understood it, the professor's point is that concepts must be understood within the framework utilized by the speaker. This allows me to use the same words with different meanings. Only if you enter my framework you can understand what I mean.

But such a notion, rather than aiding communication, is guaranteed to prevent it. It is true that we all see the world from different perspectives, with different filters, but we must make an effort at communication within a common framework. I cannot abandon the effort and attempt to impose my frame of reference on the rest of society. Such cultural shifts must of necessity take place slowly, in an evolutionary manner, so that communication can continue while the shift takes place. To insist that all men can speak from their own personal framework, ignoring the shared cultural experience, is to demand that no communication take place.

That may be the goal.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Communication, revisited

Continuing with this thought on the issue of communication. IT is my observation that there is actually very little communicating going on in our culture today, mostly because we are not talking to each other; rather, we are talking at each other. I know this is not an original observation, but that doesn't make it any less true. Let's take the quote from Scientific American that started this whole thing for me.

At one level, the editorial folks at SciAm are absolutely correct. The issue revolves around the the interactions between two elements of a pluralistic society that happen to be in profound disagreement with each other. The problem is, SciAm's formulation says nothing. Why? Because every policy debate in a pluralistic society is, at its foundation, a debate about which side of the issue gets to determine what actions are to be considered appropriate. It doesn't matter whether the subject is a highly volatile one, like stem cell research, or barely debatable, like child exploitation. The resolution of the policy question will result in one segment of society curtailing the actions of another.

But we can never get to the point of the debate if we pretend that the argument is something other than what it is. On this issue, and so many others, we throw words at each other, not in an effort of clarify, but to muddy the waters. Just listen to any political advertisement. Does anyone with a brain really believe that any candidate's formulation of their opponent's position is fair and accurate? Every statement should be viewed with the utmost cynicism, not just suspicion. The same holds true with editorials, advertisements, news articles, and even blogs. It is neither in vogue, nor effective to attempt simple communication today. If you read or watch anything and expect that you allow oneself to be indoctrinated.

We cannot afford to allow that to happen in a pluralistic society.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I'll come back to this one, but I've got to get it off my chest. This morning I pick up Scientific American, and am greeted with a number of recommendations that I as a Christian adopt someone else's worldview. But one phrase, at the end of their opening editorial, jumped out at me: "The policy fight over embryonic stem cells, for example, centers on when and how one segment of a pluralistic society should curtail the behaviors of those who hold a different view." Funny, I thought the debate was over how far a moral society can go in opportunistically using the resources of the least fortunate before it undermines its entire foundation and collapses.

The problem is, we are talking about the same issue, but choosing language guaranteed to keep either of us from communicating.

More on this later.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What's in a name?

Why The Tree? Well, believe it or not, I had resisted Scott's (the unintentional blogger) requests to begin blogging solely because I did not have a good name for my blog, and I figure you really only get one shot at naming your blog. I mentioned this while teaching at my church last Sunday evening, and this name came up. Here's why:

Frequently, when I acquire a new piece of information, I mentally take the time to correlate it with other related pieces of information. This process is very intentional, and the image in my mind is that of hanging the new information in the tree that represents the sum of my knowledge. It's not a great picture, since trees don't really interconnect, but the image dates back very far in my past, and I am not likely to replace it at this point. I mentioned this while teaching, and hence the suggestion.

This process has been both good and bad for me. Good, because the correlation process probably helps me to retain information more effectively. Bad, because it makes it very easy for me to overestimate what I know. I draw very rapid conclusions, and I have to be very careful not to assume that my conclusions bear the force of fact. For years, when someone told me sonething, I would respond with "I know" rather than the more accurate "Interesting", or something similar. I think one reason I did this is related to this correlating process. Someone tells me something, I correlate it to what I know, begin using it to draw conclusions, and it feels like I know it. Of course, this could just be a weak attempt at explaining away a behavior that irritated nearly everyone that I came into contact with for years. I think I have stopped doing this for the most part, but you would probably have to ask my friends to know for sure.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I had a really interesting experience yesterday, and it has me thinking a lot about how we think. This is not a new phenomenon for me, I have spent a lot of time thinking about thinking, but this particular preception issue is going to take some more time to process.

If you don't know me (and I can only hope that eventually someone who doesn't know me reads this blog), I am 6' 4" tall, and I weight about 205 pounds. I swim and lift weights for exercise, so I'm not a small guy. So I'm in the store yesterday with another very tall man, and the clerk (who I would have killed had I been required to spend any more time with him, but that's another story) says to me, "You've got big guns. I can see you work out." Later, I related this to a friend, who said, effectively "Duh! You are a big guy." I don't see it this way, so I ask him to compare my arms to another man in the room. He says "There is no comparison. You're arms are way bigger."

Now, you have to believe me when I say that I do not care one way or the other. But the deal is, I look at this other guy, and I think he is built larger than I am. Really, I do. And no matter how much this friend tries to convince me otherwise, I just don't see it.

Now, having spent so much time thinking about thought, I am not at all surprised when people's perceptions of their behavior, or their attitudes, or other subjective things don't line up with reality. But this is an objective fact. Light rays bounce off my "guns" the same as every other guy's, and yet when I look at my body, I do not see what everyone else sees. It just strikes me that the filters we place between information and our brains are remarkable. And I wonder how any person can trust themselves to exist alone. This is perhaps one of the most significant purposes for society -- it provides each of us with a different set of filters. Even if I do not accept your conclusion, understanding how you arrived at your conclusion can help me to see the information through your filters, and maybe to get closer to the raw information.

Or maybe there is no such thing as "raw" information. If every one of us perceives the world through a collection of filters, then there is only one perspective that s filter-free. I wonder, is this part of what He meant when He said that His thoughts are not our thoughts? We cannot think like Him, not only because we are finite, but because we see nothing as it really is.

There are a lot of implications for this for me. Maybe I will revisit this again. But I have lost some of my confidence in the default "rightness" of my perceptions. If I cannot see my arms accurately, I might want to be less strident in some more subjective areas.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Left-handed snails

I read National Geographic magazine. I have since I was a kid reading the copies my grandpa got. For a while, I had every issue of the magazine beginning in the mid-60s, at least until I realized that I will never have time to look back at them, my kids weren't interested, and my wife, while accepting my nostalgia, would like the space. That was when I discovered that no one else wanted them either. But I digress.

I still enjoy the magazine, but in recent years it has become the defacto publishing arm of the radical evolutionist society. I myself am a creationist (I'm sure details will emerge over time as to what that means), and I find their over-the-top evolutionary agenda frustrating at times. Every now and then, though, I just find it amusing.

Like this month. In their wildlife section, they have a short article on "left-handed" snails. Now, I'm left-handed, and I have a particular fondness for creatures that share this particular physiologic advantage. The article observes that these snails, which have shells that curve in the opposite direction from their right-handed counterparts, have a significant advantage in the realm of survival -- the species of crab that feeds on them is adapted for eating right-handed snails, and rather than struggle with the lefties, it just leaves them alone.

The article concludes with the following amusing line: "Despite this apparent advantage, marine snails haven't evolved toward having mostly left-handed shells; scientists are at a loss to explain why." Let me see if I understand. We have a genetic adaptation that directly guarantees survival (if your preditor ignores you, that increases your survival). Strangely, this does not produce a shift in population dynamics that is not just predicted by evolution, but (let's be honest), is required by evolution. I cannot imagine a more perfect scenario for gradualist evolution. But it doesn't happen.

Now, I know what's going to happen. Someone is going to continue to look for an explanation, and eventually one is going to be found. And evolutionists will rest easy, knowing that their theory can explain anything. But this little example shows that evolution cannot predict anything. If something this simple cannot produce the sort of population changes that evolution predicts, what real hope is there that exceedingly subtle changes can succeed? And if you can explain why your theory fail when it fails, and succeeds when it succeeds, you do not have a scientific theory, you have a metaphysical device. These are wonderful tools for explaining the universe, but they are of little value in doing science.

One more small point: as I have a Doctorate in Computer Science, I could reasonably be called a scientist. And I am not at all at a loss to explain why the snails haven't evolved. Simply put, they haven't evolved because nothing evolves. Evolution on even a small scale is a very rare event. Minor body changes occur so rarely as to be the exception rather than the rule. Darwin's finches might be the only good example. I don't expect the snails to begin to prefer left-handedness, so I'm not surprised when they don't.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I'm 44 years old, and as a kid, I remember playing this game called Careers. I recently found a vintage 1955 copy on eBay, and it just arrived yesterday. Like I was 10, I ripped open the package, and convinced my wife and 2 boys (ages 10 and 13) to play last night. The game is very fun, rather sophisticated. The writing is very clever and witty. In one way, I'm surprised it isn't being produced. But something struck me. There is a square on the board called Shopping Spree. If you land there, you roll one die and pay the number on the die times 10% of your cash-on-hand. My wife landed on it once with $1,750 cash, rolled a three, and had to calculate 30% of 1,750. And I realized that there is no way a game produced in the year 2006 would require such a strenuous calculation, even in the age of calculators. This game was printed in 1955, where a computer with the power of my sons' hand calculators would be as large as my bedroom. I'm sure the math was intended to be done in the head, which is where I did it. Seems a simple thing, 30% of 1,750, but you couldn't expect any American under the age of 30 to be willing to exert themselves that hard. I wonder if that's the reason the game is no longer made. Bummer, it really was a lot of fun. BTW, the answer is $525.

Monday, September 25, 2006


My name is Don Wilcox. The dr in drdwilcox stands for Dr. I have a Doctor of Science degree in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis. But I also have a bachelor's degree in New Testament Literature from Oral Roberts University, and currently work as the Associate Pastor at a non-denominational church in Arizona.

My interests are as broad as my degrees. I am blogging in part because my friends have asked me to record my varied musings in a place that they can read them. So, this is for you, Scott (