28 April 2007

Self-Portrait


A Tale of Two Christian Views on Global Climate Change

In the wake of the publication of the latest two IPCC reports on Global Climate Change (2001 and 2007), the evangelical Christian community seems to be dividing, as CNN reports. This is becoming one of the three issues where I have noticed the most conflict between Christians and scientists. The other two are, of course, Biological Evolution and the age of Earth. The conflict about global climate change is beginning to cause a split among prominent evangelical Christian leaders in the United States. This split is visible in two competing statements on the issue.

The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship is signed by Dr. James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family), Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, and Dr. William R. Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), among others. It is a product of the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship (ICES).

The other statement is Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, which is signed by Rev. Dr. Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life), Andy Crouch, and Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals), among others. It is a product of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Similar statements can be found in my other entires on Creation Care and a recent InterVarsity blog entry.

I observe two striking differences between these two statements. The Cornwall declaration seems primarily concerned with economic liberty and technological progress. The Call to Action seems primarily concerned with the morally correct response to global climate change. While the Cornwall declaration makes many theological and scientific claims, it does not quote or cite any scriptural or scientific sources. The Call To Action cites numerous scientific sources and quotes or cites multiple scripture passages.

The ICES website claims that the conference that produced the Cornwall declaration included "leading theologians, economists, environmental scientists and policy experts." However, when I looked, the list of the notable signers did not include any environmental scientists, except possibly Dr. Charles W. Rovey, who is Associate Professor of Geoscience at Southwest Missouri State University. However, no climatologists or meteorologists were on the list. The Call to Action claims only to be signed by "American evangelical Christian leaders."

Both statements agree that Christians have a duty to love the poor and that we are stewards of God's Creation. They disagree over the best methods for that stewardship and over the existence of anthropogenic global climate change.

This may seem strange coming from me, but I agree with Newt Gingrich about what are some of the true fundamental concerns of skeptics of anthropogenic global climate change. During a debate with John Kerry, the former Speaker of the House agreed that anthropogenic global climate change is real. I think he captured the economic concerns of skeptics succinctly when he said, "For most of the last 30 years, the environment has a been a powerful emotional tool for bigger government and higher taxes. And therefore if you're a conservative, if you hear these arguments, you know what's coming next."

These concerns are echoed by a review of the film The Great Global Warming Swindle that claims, "
when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, many 'peace-niks' and political activists moved over to environmental activism, bringing their 'neo-Marxist' political philosophy with them....environmentalism became the 'new guise for anti-capitalism.'" In the Cornwall declaration, these concerns can be seen in the fourth "aspiration" or goal, "We aspire to a world in which liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals."

Note: This is not my full response to Darius. That will be much longer and directly respond to his words.

Wet Dog On the Loose!

I have not lived with a dog since I was a small child, and I had been used to living with cats until I moved in with Chris and Chris' Dalmatian Jenny at the beginning of this year. One of the many differences I have noticed between cats and dogs is that cats usually clean themselves well, but dogs often have to be bathed.
Jenny doesn't like baths, as you can probably guess from this photograph. You can probably imagine what Chris looked like after this!

After she was finished displaying her anger, she appeared to use the carpet in our living room as a towel. I am not sure if she was trying to dry herself or to wipe away the scent of her shampoo, which I thought was very nice.



After the rolling, she apparently decided to just sulk. I am not sure why she was so unhappy, her fur did look much better and brighter after it dried.

23 April 2007

Thanksgiving 2006: My First Deep Fried Turkey

I lived in California, working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, from July of 2005 to December of 2006. That means I spent Thanksgiving of 2006 in California; I accepted an invitation to dinner at house rented by several friends in InterVarsity. It was only a short walk from my apartment.

The culinary highlight of the meal was, as the title suggests, a deep-fried turkey. Here we see the turkey being stuffed and prepared for frying by Clint, one of the residents of the house, which is known as "519."
The deep-fryer was located in the back yard to minimize the risk of setting the house on fire.
Once the oil was boiling and the turkey done, our minds naturally drifted to other food items that might be improved by boiling oil. The most obvious item was french-fried potatoes, shown being lifted out of the oil above. The fries were good but quickly became soggy. We also tried deep-fried stuffed mushrooms, which we excellent, and cauliflower, which was also surprisingly good.
This is the turkey, in its golden-brown deep-fried succulence. It turned out very well. The meat was moist, tender, and tasty. It was also no more greasy than a roasted or baked turkey. My thanks to those who cooked and opened their house to me.

Here are some of the other guests at the party. From left to right on the couches are Kevin & Hannah (from New Zealand) and Clint. I thank Hannah for provided some of the photographs in this entry. On the coffee table is a risk board, but I do not recall actually playing the game. For most of the day after the meal, we simply sat and talked, enjoying a very restful Thanksgiving.

"And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you." - Deuteronomy 8:10 (ESV)

21 April 2007

A surprising thing happened to me...

... at the 2007 Hayes Research Forum.


My presentation won second place in the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences!

18 April 2007

Echoes in Eternity

I recently discovered a blog entitled Echoes in Eternity, which is written by the brother of one of my best friends. I asked a few questions in response to his statements about global warming. He responded very thoroughly in two replies. He also left a comment on my blog here. I have posted a brief response as a comment to his second reply.

"I am flattered by and appreciate the time and effort your response took. I will compose replies, but my schedule is fairly busy. A worthy response will take some time, probably a few weeks. So, please keep watching your comments for my replies."

15 April 2007

Moving from California to Ohio

Part 4: New Year's Eve in Saint Louis

I spent New Year' s Eve of 2006 in St. Louis, MO. I have already described my experience there in another entry. The New Year's Eve session ended the convention. We had communion that evening, which is quite a logistical achievement for 22,000 people from many denominations. The photograph at left gives you some idea of the size of the crowd involved.

Following communion, we worshipped in song in various languages. One particularly appropriate song was "Blessed" by Fred Hammond, which includes the line "Late in the Midnight Hour/ God's gonna turn it around" We cheered in 2007 before boarding buses back to our hotels.

Incidentally, I must compliment the organizers of the convention for excellence in transportation. They must have commandeered every yellow school bus in the city, but we arrived on time for all of the sessions and were moved with impressive efficiency to and from our hotels.


The convention left little time for sightseeing, but I did manage to take this photograph of the famous Gateway Arch.

To answer any wisecracks, I know I am posting this part out of order. I have my reasons; besides, I reserve the right to post things out of order on my own blog.

14 April 2007

Links from a Catholic Colleague about God and Science

http://www.stanford.edu/group/catholic/dumainelec.html

Old Response to a Letter I Wrote About my Scientific Vocation

Forwarded From: Focus on the Family


Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
---------------------------------------------------------------
Response to your letter to Focus on the Family


Discussion Thread
---------------------------------------------------------------
Response (Lindsey Heatley) - 09/29/2005 02:02 PM
Thank you, Luke, for your recent letter to John Thomas and Boundless. Although Mr. Thomas would prefer to respond personally, the many commitments and responsibilities associated with his position at Boundless prevent him from doing so. I trust you will understand why he has asked me to respond on his behalf.

We greatly appreciate your interest in our Webzine and your willingness to share with us your thoughts regarding Mr. Thomas' article "Gringos." From your letter we can certainly tell that you have aspired to serve Christ in a meaningful way while you're working toward your PhD in physics. You are to be commended for your willingness to do so. Special thanks for letting us know your opinions about your generation and the various means they strive to be a Christian witness aside from becoming missionaries or working in Mexico. We're certain our editors will be interested in your remarks, and with that in mind we will be happy to forward your message to their attention. We assure you it will receive a careful reading. After all, perceptive feedback like you rs serves to enhance the quality and relevance of our Webzine, and to that end we're thankful for your input.

Thanks, again, for writing. If we can be of assistance in the future, please feel free to let us know. God bless you.

Lindsey Heatley
Focus on the Family

What is Wrong with Christians Believeing Young-Earth Creationism? Answer #1

Some of my friends (one in particular), with whom I have had rather emotional arguments about the age of Earth and the Universe, have asked something to the effect of, "What is wrong with Christians believing Young Earth Creationism (YEC)? How are my views on such an apparently abstract question important to my daily life?" These are important and valid questions, to which I will give several answers. These answers are my personal opinion and may or may not represent the opinions of other Christian scientists.

Answer 1: Credibility & Evangelism

In the famous Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus commanded us to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." To fulfill this Commission, one must have some level of credibility with prospective disciples, as Paul recognized in a different context. Someone who interprets Genesis to mean that Earth is a few thousand years old has nearly zero credibility with my scientific colleagues. They know far more about the relevant science than most people advocating a Young-Earth interpretation of Genesis, so they are not inclined to believe YECs about other matters. This makes my witness more difficult because I must spend time demonstrating that I do not hold this view and that becoming a Christian does not require one to hold this view.

In other words, the literal interpretation of Genesis held by a large number of my fellow followers of Christ is a true impediment to my witness to my fellow scientists. An unusually potent example is found in Prof. Bob Park of the University of Maryland; as you can read in item 2 of one of his weekly "What's New" articles, accepting a 6,000 year old Earth would make discussing the gospel with him even more difficult that it would otherwise be.

To understand this impediment, let us take (as an example) an essay entitled "Antimatter and the Big Bang" by high school student Paul Lamicela. With it, he won a national essay contest judged by the staff of Answers in Genesis (AiG); entrants "were asked to write a Bible-defending research paper using the book" War of the Worldviews "and at least one AiG web article as references." The subject of the essay is the baryon asymmetry or "baryon number problem," as Mr. Lamicela calls it, which is the predominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe. I chose this example because this asymmetry is one of the primary reasons that BaBar, the experiment on which I work, was built.

The abstract for his essay begins,
"This is an example of the War of the Worldviews in action! As I researched the baryon number problem, I found many brilliant, evolutionary scientists indicate that this problem has basically been solved."
In the second sentence of the abstract, two substantial errors are already apparent.
  1. The scientists who research baryon asymmetry are not "evolutionary scientists," which would imply that they are biologists. They are physicists, astrophysicists, cosmologists, and researchers in related fields.
  2. Physicists and astrophysicists know that this problem has not been solved. To my knowledge, no scientist has ever indicated that this is a solved problem; I have seen and given several presentations in which I state that this is one of the major unanswered questions of physics. It is the clearly listed as one of the "Unsolved Mysteries" of particle physics at The Particle Adventure, which is an excellent introductory website.
I could continue to point out other errors, but these two have already demolished any scientific credibility this young man has in my eyes. That is a shame because elsewhere in the essay, he demonstrates an impressive grasp of the material. If a scientist gives this student no credibility in an area in which he or she is an expert, the student would have no reason to expect nay credibility in areas, such as faith and Christianity, less familiar to the scientist.

For those who are reading this and believe that Earth is a few thousand years old, how would you react if one of your children were to announce that he or she wants to be an astronomer, paleontologist, geologist, or evolutionary biologist when he or she grows up? The dearth of Christians in the physical sciences is a problem on several levels, and I fear that some Christians are exacerbating it by their attacks on science.

For example, a writer for the Institute for Creation Research asserts that his colleagues who accept an old age for Earth are "dominated by uniformitarian brainwashing." I suspect that a young Christian student would have his or her desire to enter a scientific discipline reduced by warnings of this kind. That would only increase the dearth of Christians in the sciences and reduce the number of Christians who can credibly evangelize to scientists, which probably increase the number and severity of warnings to young students about the dangers of science. Thus, this destructive cycle continues.

08 April 2007

Moving from California To Ohio

Part 2: Birthday in Minnesota

This entry is a elaboration of the second point in my Winter/Christmas Travel Plans ("Dec. 20-23"). Katie was my host for my stay in Minnesota. She also baked me a birthday cake. Here, she is swing a quilt that was a Christmas present to her sister.

Joel and Ruth helped me eat the cake, as did my friend Josh, who is not photographed. Since arranging everyone's schedules took longer than I expected, we did not eat the cake until a few days after my birthday. Joel is scared and Ruth has her mouth covered because she was sick. Joel, Josh, and I went out for dinner and back to Josh's house. While at the house, we had a long and deep conversation about the validity of Christian belief, especially about the severity of sin and mercy of God.

Ruth took her mask off long enough for us to take this photograph. I did not catch her illness.

Whenever I move to a new location, as I have done several times since high school, the people I leave behind are always what I miss most.

07 April 2007

Someone obviously put a great deal of work into this...






JENNY (Dalmatian): Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff...

CHRIS (Housemate): [Points to table with confused look on his face]

LUKE (Me): I thought we could use more beer bottle cap art!

JENNY: Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, lick, sniff, sniff, sniff...

CHRIS: Have you been on Craig's List again?

LUKE: No, I didn't even have to go that far. I was taking out the trash and yanked this out of the dumpster!

JENNY: Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff , sniff, sniff, sniff...

06 April 2007

Rebutting Young-Earth Creationism

03 April 2007

The Bride Said..."Wow!"

In mid-October 2006, I traveled to Rochester, MN to attend the wedding of a college friend named Christine, who I have always known as "Cree." Since Rochester is fairly close to my hometown of Independence, my family visited me there on the day before the wedding. From left to right are my sister's boyfriend Justin, me, my stepfather Ronald, my mother Anita, my uncle Roger, and my sister Crystal. I call this photograph "Reflections on Family."

The wedding was held in an outdoor grove owned by the Plummer House of the Arts in Rochester. The weather cooperated except for a bit of wind, as you will see in later photographs.

While we were staying in the Ramada, my family noticed a beautiful mansion secluded in a grove of trees on a hill visible from our hotel. When I took the hotel's shuttle van to the wedding, I discovered that the mansion was the Plummer House of the Arts! The photograph above shows the view from the grove where the wedding was held. Below, in a small section of the photograph above, you can barely read the sign for the Ramada at which my parents and I stayed.

This wedding was also a sort of reunion for several of my friends from the University of Minnesota, especially those of us who met in Campus Crusade for Christ during my freshman year.
One of those friends, Bill, was a groomsman.

"Why is there a swastika in the floor?" That is probably the single strangest thing I have ever said at a wedding. The question was prompted by the floor tile above. We were assured by one of the curators of the House that this was one of many religious symbols included in the floor before this one was corrupted by the Nazis. I think the bride was most shocked at this tile because the groom was German.

The cake cutting was relatively dignified; neither bride nor groom smashed cake in the other's face. However, Cree did accidentally get a little frosting on Thomas' cheek and promptly removed it.



At the reception following the wedding, the groom tried his hand at the guitar.

At the reception meal, which was very good, each guest had a personalized envelope to mark his or her seat.

You may have noticed that the photographs and descriptions in this entry are out of their original chronological order. That is because I wanted to save the ceremony, especially the kiss, for last.

During his sermon, the officiant had the bride and groom hold and observe each other's hands. He reminded them that they would use these hands to caress, comfort, and celebrate with each other for the rest of their lives. It was one of the best wedding sermons I have heard.

At left are the bride and groom. In the middle you can see one of my favorite parts of this ceremony: the unity candle. The bride and groom each took one of the small candles and used them to jointly light the larger candle. I like the symbolism, but a light breeze almost kept the unity candle from staying lit! At right is one of Cree's musical colleagues, who provided the vocal music for the ceremony.

This is the best wedding kiss I have ever captured on film. The bride's sister (at left) and the officiant seem to like it too. After they broke the kiss, Cree said, "Wow!"