Exciting and Relevant History

Another book has been read! I’m on a roll this year since I decided to dedicate two hours a day to reading. And I mean dedicate. It’s the first thing I do each day. I can read for about an hour and a half straight before I need a break now. That’s a marked improvement from a few years back when fifteen minutes was my limit before my mind started to wander. After that first hour and a half (with coffee) first thing in the morning, I do my yoga practice, meditate, and then make breakfast. Then I can usually sit and read for another hour and a half. And that’s just my morning reading! I usually pick up the book again for a few minutes at a time during the day, especially while my son is at the gym. No, I’m not going in there! This body is made for reading, not sweating in front of other people half my age.

A couple days ago I finished “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson. I got it after watching “Inherit the Wind” and wanting to know more. I think I’ve written about this before. Movies, to me, are appetizers. They show me glimpses of what’s out there to know. I typically look up a movie I like to see if it were based on a book. If it’s a movie about a real person, I look for their auto-biography or biography if they didn’t write their own. If it’s a movie about a historical event, I look to find books about it that might give me more insight, the older and closer to the event the better.

“Summer for the Gods” was written recently so I would have bypassed it for an older one, but this book was recommended on a website because it gave both sides a fair shake. It wasn’t written from a Fundamentalist Christian or Evolutionist point of view. I could feel a bit of a leaning toward science instead of religion, but it was acceptable and reasonable. I knew the movie was a tad sensational and one-sided, so I was looking for something to balance it out.

This book was great because it started at what led up to the trial, how it went down, what changed because of it, and how it is still affecting us today. And it wasn’t boring! It read more like a novel than a history book. As a Christian, homeschooler, and a libertarian, I had no idea that this trial had so much to do with how I see things now. I highly recommend it!

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In His Image

I’m reading (yes, I know I start most of my posts with “I’m reading…”) “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson after watching the movie “Inherit the Wind” a few months ago. Watching the movie, I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I did some looking around and found this book to be recommended for its clarity and balance, not to mention readability. I’m loving it. Not only is it giving me details about the Scope’s Trial, it’s giving me some great insight into the era leading up to it. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

I had a thought while reading this morning and it was prompted by this line, “’In Comte’s construction of history,’ Marsden observed, ‘humans were rising from a religious stage in which questions were decided by authority, through a metaphysical stage in which philosophy ruled, to a positive stage in which empirical investigation would be accepted as the only reliable road to truth.’”

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re in that “positive stage” anymore, if we ever were. Our questions and answers are still decided by authority, it’s just that we have given that authority to man and government approved scientists instead of the church and its approved clergy.

The way I see it, “made in the image of God” means we have been created independent, reasoning, compassionate, and strong. God did not mean for us to accept what other humans say without using our own minds. He did not create us weak minded or cold. He created us to be in a relationship. A relationship is a back and forth, give and take thing. It is not authoritarian. If He had wanted blind followers He wouldn’t have given us the free will to choose our path.

I believe God wants us to explore the world and the universe. He wants us to ask questions, have doubts, create hypothesis, and debate reality. It’s what makes us different than animals after all. If a notion someone has challenges the existence of God, let’s talk about it, explore the idea, and see where it takes us. I don’t believe God can be defeated by an idea we create.

When we strike down an idea right out of hand as something not on the table to discuss, we shut down the very part of us that drives us, the part that makes us “in the image of God.”

“What is Evolution?”

I’ve had this book on my shelf for several months. I bought it from the author’s website after I read several articles by him and really wanted to hear more from him. I wasn’t disappointed. This book is questioning evolution theory, not on the basis that it conflicts with Christian theology, but because it conflicts with sound scientific thinking and is more philosophy than science. He proposes that it is closer to its own religion because several prominent proponents of it have stated that the only way to promote the theory is to “loosen America’s grip on faith.” Personally, I can learn and study how our physical world works and still believe in the “why” of Christian faith. There is no conflict between science and faith. And I’ve read many books and articles from scientists that are also Christians that have the same idea.

So why the push to denounce anyone who questions the ideas presented in evolution theory? Isn’t the point of science to question everything? If we stop questioning, don’t we end any chance of scientific discovery?

The one thing that keeps coming back to me while reading this is the definition of science. Merriam Webster’s definition of science is “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method”. And scientific method is, “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” The evolution that has occurred over millennia is not something we can prove by observation or experiment. We haven’t been able to recreate it or test it. It’s only a theory. It may seem that all the signs we have point to the theory being correct but we cannot say it is law in our world. The science will never be settled, well, unless we find a way to go back in time or recreate it somehow.

But here’s what I don’t understand. Why is it so important to people that we “admit” that evolution is how this planet obtained its diverse species? It has no real bearing on any other scientific knowledge or understanding. The same goes for theoretical physics. Interesting to think about and come up with new theories, yes. But it has no bearing on how we attempt to get a person to colonize Mars at this time.

Anyway, the book was very interesting and not “God said He created the earth!” and it doesn’t glorify Intelligent Design or Creationism either. It only points out some flaws in the theory, the fact that it cannot be recreated, and that it is being pushed on public education as definitive science that everyone must accept to be considered a legitimate scientist. I found it very interesting and, once again, it’s led me to add another book to my reading list, “Why is Evolution True?” by Jerry A. Coyne.

If you’d like to read more about William James Herath and his book, go to http://www.whatisevolutionbook.com

Find Your Road

20170802_080822Sometimes when I finish one of the “Great Books” and look to the reading list for the next one, I am sorely disappointed and do not look forward to reading it. “Elementals of Chemistry” by Lavoisier was one of those books! Chemistry?! Oh, this will be a fun and exciting read! I was happily surprised at its content, though!

French. 1780’s. Science. I can’t imagine a worse subject for me. I looked up the Wikipedia article on him and found out he’d been beheaded during the “Reign of Terror”. Interesting. Then I began to read. It wasn’t difficult and I enjoyed the subject. I even learned a few things about acids and air. Why can’t all science text books read like this?

And here was my favorite line in the reading (the assignment was only the first fifty-two pages), “…in chemistry as in moral philosophy, it is extremely difficult to overcome prejudices imbibed in early education and to search for truth in any other road than the one we have been accustomed to follow.” Ain’t that the truth?! If only we could see that we all tend to do this, we’d have an easier time finding a new road to travel, wouldn’t we?

Since everything I read tends to remind me of God or Home Education, I’ll go down that road with this text as well. This time I will choose Home Education. Looking back, I believe I’ve given my children the best chance at being open to any road ahead of them because we did not attend any formal school in what I consider their childhood. They were educated in that we helped them learn to read, write, and cipher when they wanted to. We introduced them to the world around them but they were not “schooled” so that they followed a particular road. Now that they are in their teens they are looking out into the world and finding the best road for their needs. My hope is that they will be just as comfortable changing roads once they are out there, and will see that the road they are currently on doesn’t lead to the destination they now have.

It’s like this. I feel that so many people I talk to are stuck on the same road they were set on in their early years because they cannot see another way no matter how hard the look at the map. They see others heading to better destinations or happier in their travels, but instead of changing the road, they change their vehicle or how they drive it. They try the shoulder of the same road, get a bigger or nicer car, or try walking instead but they cannot see they could just change roads altogether.

It makes me sad sometimes, especially when I see someone so unhappy on the road they are traveling. All I want to do is pick them up and put them on my road or any other road, just so they can see there are others. I know it wouldn’t help them. Everyone needs to come to the realization that there are so many choices out there on their own and that we should be constantly changing to meet our current needs, not blindly pursuing the goals put on us by someone else. And many people never will.

Learn Nothing Day – 2017

My goal for the next thirty days is to write every day for an hour AND post it. So, if you think these posts come a tad random, that is the reason why. They are! I’ll keep them all tagged “dailies” for future reference.

Today is “Learn Nothing Day”, an event created by Sandra Dodd in an effort to show people that it is not possible to learn nothing on any given day. It does not matter if you are in school or out, in front of the TV, hiking in the woods, or quietly meditating on a beach. It doesn’t matter if you are new Mom rocking a newborn in front a fireplace or a old Dad mowing the lawn on a sunny day. Even if you are all alone in the world, you will learn something every day. It’s unavoidable! No one succeeds on “Learn Nothing Day.” We are all losers no matter how hard we try.

In honor of that day, I’ll fill you in on what I’ve already learned today and it’s only 9:15 A.M.! I’ll go backwards from the latest to the earliest pieces of the day.

I just learned that all black and green teas are “anti-inflammatory”. No, they don’t calm down arguments, or maybe they do. Can you argue over a cup of tea? But they can reduce the inflammation in your body that cause all kinds of disease. I’m glad I’m a fan of iced tea with my lunch and a hot cup of hot oolong in the afternoon.

About an hour before that, when I logged onto Facebook to see what my friends were up to (it’s currently raining and I just know all my fellow desert dwellers will be reveling in it), I was reminded that it WAS “Learn Nothing Day” and posted to remind everyone to celebrate. I also posted a link for those that may have no idea what I’m talking about. This one http://learnnothingday.blogspot.com/

So now THEY have already learned something in reading my post! Ha ha! Share the love!

During my “Christian Basics” online class, I read this question, “Will unbelievers have a second chance to believe in Jesus after He returns?” This has always been a tough one. The answer in their book is no, but maybe. There is no specific reference to whether or not they will, there is only conjecture and inference. My personal belief is yes and I really can’t know. When I was a very new believer I couldn’t accept that God would condemn all those in the world who had never heard of Jesus. What about all those who have died before Jesus came to save the world, those who have lived isolated and never heard of Him, those who have felt lied to and betrayed by humans in this world and never found anyone they could trust that would lead them to the truth? I think at Judgment Day, something will happen, something just and good, something we cannot understand now and will in the future. I will trust that God has a plan and that all is never lost for the innocent.

In my bible study by Beth Moore, called “Entrusted”, I learned something marvelous. “The church of the present – comprised of every Christian on planet Earth – has a rock-solid foundation but it doesn’t have walls.” Many would disagree with this statement but I’d say that this is the way the church, the body of Christ, should be. Hold on to that for a moment. “The body” is porous, it lets in and out impurities and nutrition, it is not isolated. It lets in and keeps what it needs to live and grow. It gets rid of that which it does not. So we should be as the body of Christ. We stand on a firm foundation of the love of God, but we do not hide ourselves away, isolated and stagnant. We breathe in the world around us, let it in, and let it wash over us. We keep that which we need, new members, love, understanding, patience, etc. And we let go of the ugly and profane. It’s a beautiful picture. The more I study the bible from other people’s perspectives, the more I find that it fits so beautifully in this life.

My Great Books of the Western World reading list put me to Lavoisier’s Chemistry this month…ugg…science. I’m so not a fan of chemistry and mathematics. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I think I’ve posted about that before. But this is pretty awesome. I won’t get into all the details just yet since I’m saving it for when I finish and review it, but let’s just say the writing is clear and easy to read and doesn’t leave you bogged down in too many details. Today I learned that people used to know about acids but not where they came from, just what they do. He developed a way of purposely creating them, which he explains in this book, and renaming them according to the element they came from. Sulfurous and sulfuric acid come from sulfur. -ous means less saturated with oxygen, smelly and more stable. -ic means saturated with oxygen, stronger, solid, and odorless. And that muriatic acid still holds that name because they didn’t know where it came from. I’m not sure if they know now or what. I guess I’d have to google it but I’m not learning anything today!

My day started with a cup of coffee and “The Question of God” by Dr. Nicholi, Jr. This is a very good book if you’re interested. From a Christian or Atheist point of view, it compares Freud’s view of the world to C.S. Lewis’. Both were influential in their time, both came from religious families and became atheist. Freud never returned to God and Lewis did. It’s fascinating to hear them compared, both what they wrote and how they actually lived. I was reading the chapter on sex this morning and found this nugget. “Lewis goes beyond Freud to argue that people who control their sexual impulses understand their sexuality more than people who fail at controlling them. ‘Virtue – even attempted virtue – brings light; indulgence brings fog.’” Freud argued that we need to not hide sexuality, we should embrace it. I’d tend to agree. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to control ourselves. As with any passion, it’s good for some things, not so good if over-indulged. Lewis once told a story about a society that sold tickets for “strip tease” sort of act where a person came out with a covered plate and slowly lifted the lid to reveal a piece of bacon. The crowd would go wild with excitement and people would hurt each other to get to it and keep it from others. I think we’d all agree that something had gone horribly wrong with their feelings about food. The same goes for sex. Something has gone terribly wrong today. I’m not sure what the fix is really. I’d rather not go back to Victorian era values of women and sex, but this view of “anything goes” does not seem to be creating a healthier and happier society either.

That brings be to the start of my day. It’s nearly ten o’clock now and I wonder what else I’ll have to try not to learn by the end of the day!

Notes on “Euclid’s Window” by Leonard Mlodinow – Final Part

Page 240 Reading about quantum mechanics I swear I’m reading dialog from a Star Trek episode.

Page 242 “Without venturing into the philosophy of science, there is something about the phrase ‘fundamental theory’ which seems to imply that dozens of researchers should not be making their livings measuring its nineteen ‘fundamental’ parameters to accuracies of seven decimal places.” What?

String theorists rebel against the idea that this model is fundamental…their aim is to find a theory completely defined by general principles.” And when we do the Federation of Planets will visit us because we will be at the beginning of interplanetary travel!

This string is made of nothing, for to define a material composition implies a finer structure that they do not possess. Yet everything is made of them.” Sounds like the circular argument of “What created God?”

What does a “particle accelerator” do really?

Page 251 “People applauded politely, then ignored their work. If pressed, they said they didn’t believe it. In defense of these ‘people,’ the mathematics was (and still is) extraordinarily hard and complex. ‘People didn’t want to make the investment to understand it, and without the imprimatur of a statesman, they wouldn’t make the effort,’ says Schwarz.” And why would one want to? I haven’t seen any real application of these theories except just to know and explore, which is fine for some people. But why should an industry or government invest in this type of exploration really?

These chapters on string theory are really starting to put into concrete my ideas about what a mad scientist is. Are they all mad like in movies? They sit around with their big brains thinking about things and coming up with these awe-inspiring theories. And if no one listens or wants to invest in it, they go insane and kill themselves or become raving lunatics?

Page 255 Witten majored in History! Page 257“his work is having a major impact on the direction of modern mathematics, something Einstein’s work never did…driven by insights of mathematics, not physical principles as Einstein’s was.”

Page 259 M-theory! “In fact, not much is known about it at all, except that it seems to exist – a grander theory to which the five types of string theories are merely various different types of approximation.” “Witten used to say that the M in M-theory stood for ‘mystery, or magic, or matrix, my three favorite words.” All of this is beyond me. It sounds like they are just making it up out of thin air. Can you read my confusion?

Page 261 “Nature evolves with hidden order. Mathematics reveals it.” Or does it just try to make sense out of something that looks like it should make sense? The human brain loves patterns. Do we see real patterns in nature or are we creating it in our minds and then trying to put puzzle pieces together without seeing the big picture or knowing we have all the pieces?

Page 264 “Through Euclid’s window we have discovered many gifts, but he could not have imagined where they would take us. To know the stars, to imagine the atom, and to begin to understand how these pieces of the puzzle fit into the cosmic plan is for our species a special pleasure, perhaps the highest.” Science and mathematics may give us the answer to how things work, but they will never answer the why.

To the scientists before us, “we owe a debt of gratitude. They experienced the joy of discovery. For the rest of us, they enabled an equal joy, the joy of understanding.”

I really enjoyed reading this book. There is so much more in it than what I wrote here. I highly recommend reading it yourself, along with Mlodinow’s other books. It’s the joining of history, philosophy, and science that really sparks my curiosity and imagination and encourages me to learn more about a topic I thought I was forever hopeless to explore.

Notes on “Euclid’s Window” by Leonard Mlodinow – Part 4

Tomorrow I will post the last of my notes. Small bites in this book. The topic is pretty difficult for me, but so fascinating!

Page 211 “To physicists of the early twentieth century, non-Euclidean space was a fringe area of study. A curiosity, perhaps…not very relevant to the mainstream. The resistance, in Einstein’s case, lasted a few decades, but it gradually faded as the old generation died out and the new accepted what ever made the most sense, which was definitely not a solid permeating all space called ether.” Humans just don’t like change. Conformity is safer. We all generally know this to be true so why don’t we apply that to the world around us? The science will change again just like fashion and, at first we’ll be shocked and afraid of it, then generally accept its veracity.

Einstein was considered an enemy of the state by the Nazi’s in 1933 and sought asylum in the US.

Page 214 “Of his revolutionary work he wrote, ‘When a blind beetle crawls over the surface of the globe, he doesn’t realize the track he has covered in curved. I was lucky enough to have spotted it.’” That’s what relativity is, us in curved space and not even realizing it because we are so much smaller than the universe.

Moving on to Witten. String theory leads to M-theory (both of which we know very little). “…but which seems to be leading us to this conclusion: space and time do not actually exist, but are only approximations of something more complex.” Wouldn’t it be crazy if we accidentally opened the door on God, like finding the real Wizard of Oz? The more I learn about theoretical science, the more I am convinced of the existence of God.

Page 219 “The theory had been plagued by other ’embarrassments’ through the years, a physicist’s way of saying that it had implied predictions that seemed to have nothing to do with reality.” I would agree here. I can see why someone would love to spend their lives chasing these rabbit trails and I could see them some day having an impact on the world around us, like some kind of awesome Star Trek warp engine. But I don’t see why the government funds this kind of research. I don’t understand taking money from people by force and giving it to scientist to sit and dream of this stuff.

A Klein bottle helps describe a 5th dimension that helps us understand quantum physics/magnetism.

Page 233 1930’s “The Kaluza-Klein theory was a hint at something, a formal connection between theories, but not a structure that immediately gave anything new.” It was an idea that hinted at a bigger picture and wasn’t really studied again until the 1970’s.

Einstein was bothered by the way Kaluza made money to support his family by tutoring at the college. This is one thing that bugs me about Einstein. Kaluza found a way to make money and take care of his needs while he did his research to solve the physics puzzles he loved. So did Einstein. Why is that such a bad thing?

Page 236 Talking about smashing particles into each other at high speeds to see the parts within. Relating it to smashing cars into each other in the hopes of seeing a bolt throw free that was part of its structure. “There is one big difference, though. In experimental physics, smashing a Chevy into a Ford could result in an explosion of parts from a Jaguar. Unlike autos, elementary particles can morph into each other.” What?!

Page 237 “Do you ‘discover’ a theory or ‘invent’ one? Are physicists kids with flashlights searching the park at twilight for traces of truth, or are they kids with blocks trying to build structures high before they topple?”