Friday, January 30, 2015


Today, I will do my work by hand;
Carefully choose my wood, as I had planned –
Not to be cut by motorized tool,
But implements of old to shape to and sand.
Ahh… I belong to the old-time school.
The one that consists of unconventional fools
Who work by their own distinctive law.
We, the carpenters of the silent tool.
No electric current do I draw.
My workbench holds no power saw.
Only simple tools – hand saws and planes,
Chisels and hammers – a vise with wooden jaw.
Wood must be handled to know the grain,
To read of its history of drought or of rain.
Only to the hand are these revealed…
The tale of the great fire and the hurtful stain.
To those who seek the history unsealed,
Noise of a motor seems too loud and too cruel.
The secrets of wood will remain concealed
To all but the carpenters of the silent tool.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


(Please scroll down to first read part 1 on this post)

I do not usually go online to see the reader comments about articles in the newspaper (see previous post), but I did for this one. The article may have set some sort of record for responses. There were well over four thousand replies from readers, both favorable and critical of the author’s point of view.

I did not read so many of the comments, but it was interesting to get the gist of what the readers were thinking. I even wrote my own response, something I almost never do. But I did so because I felt that I had to respond to a sentiment of several readers who expressed an opinion concerning what they saw as scientific bias. They said that having the belief that there is a God is contrary to the scientific pursuit of knowledge.

In the words of one of the readers, belief in God “Slams the door shut on real (scientific) exploration because the conclusion precedes the research and actual evidence.”

This is what many people believe. They think that if someone believes in a Creator God, it must mean that they are not interested in finding out about the origins of life and of creation. After all, these people think, if one believes that all was created by God, there is no real reason to understand how it all came about.

I had to disagree. In my way of thinking, the fact that there is a designer in no way inhibits our desire to know and to understand the origins of life. Quite the contrary, I should think that it would increase our desire to know

If we understand that there is a grand design and plan to the universe, and that all of this did not just come about by random chance, then we understand that it is possible to know. The more we come to understand the design, the more we will understand the workings of the design. And of course, the more we will come to know the Designer.

In addition, this desire to know and to discover is the essence of the human spirit. We see it in almost every walk of life. The exploration of the world itself would have been impossible without this desire. Without it, it would have been too foolhardy, too reckless and too difficult to leave the safe shores of a continent to set out on flimsy boats to search the seemingly limitless expanse of ocean.

And if one believes that there is a design and a reason to it all, this belief does not decrease that desire to know, but rather only increases it. We daily try to solve puzzles and mysteries, along with a host of other exercises just because we are endowed with this quest for knowledge to know the design.

For instance, we do not do crossword puzzles believing that
they are merely random white squares placed in an arbitrary fashion, into which we try to put some letters with the hopes that, in the end, it will all make sense.

On the contrary, we try to figure out what should go in the squares precisely because there is a design and a designer to the puzzle. We use the clues given to us to try and solve the mystery.

That, I think, is the true human spirit. The true human spirit is the desire to know the design of our world and of our universe. Knowing that there is a design and a designer makes it possible for us to believe that we can begin to unravel the mystery. They are not just a series of senseless and random occurrences, but steps put in place by a Designer, a Creator.

In my way of thinking, the true scientific quest will not lead us away from God. Rather, the more we come to understand our universe, past and present, the more it should lead us to God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Several days ago, there was an interesting article that appeared in the newspaper that comes to our house. The article was entitled, Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God (by Eric Metaxas, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014).

In the article, the author took issue with the widely held opinion that as scientific knowledge progresses, people would understand that there would be less of a need for a “God” to explain the universe. However, as the author Metaxas states, “It turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature.”

Metaxas then goes on to explain that in 1966, astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important conditions that are necessary in order for any planet to support life. These two criteria were, 1: the right kind of star (like our Sun), and 2: a planet that was just the right distance from that star (like our Earth). Using these two conditions and the estimated number of planets in the universe, Sagan said that there should be about a septillion (1 followed by 24 zeros) planets in the universe that could support life.

This hypothesis of the probability of extraterrestrial life set in motion a large effort to come into contact with these intelligent life forms that must be out there.

SETI was formed. SETI, for those of us who may have forgotten, was the project called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. This project was not merely a few quack scientists with tin-foil hats that got together to peer through telescopes, but highly respected, well-educated (and well-funded) men and women.

These scientist listened with a vast network of telescopic radios, trying to detect any type of sound indications in the universe that would resemble not merely random signals, but something that could be construed as coded intelligence.

But after these optimistic beginnings and after more than fifty years of listening, the silence coming from the rest of the universe has been deafening. In the words of the author of the article, “Researchers have discovered precisely bubkis, (0 followed by nothing).”

What happened was that as the scientists increased their knowledge of the universe, and as they came to understand better all the factors needed to support life, the two parameters that Sagan supposed grew to the necessity of 10 conditions that are essential, then to 20, then 50, and the number kept on increasing. Today, scientists recognize more than 200 known parameters necessary to support life.

As we came to realize what was really needed for a planet to support life, Sagan’s septillion planet estimate dropped to a few thousand planets, and then continued to fall. In fact, the number of possibilities dropped to 0, meaning that from what we can understand, even the earth should not be able to support life. We should not even be here at all!

The author continued on to tell of some of the almost unbelievable conditions that need to not only be present, but even fine-tuned in order for human and other life to exist. He argues that the more science learns, it will not explain away God, but instead confirm the existence of God.
I can see that this post is again getting a little lengthy. I will have to split it into two. In a few days I will tell you some of my own thoughts on the subject, including in what way solving a crossword puzzle is similar to the scientific quest for knowledge.