Thursday, February 27, 2014

Creationism Unscientific?

Did you know that historic evolution theory is no more scientific than the creation account? It's easy to demonstrate.

Both evolutionists and creationists explain ultimate origins with an untestable, unobservable supernatural event. Yes, at inception the Big Bang is indeed...
supernatural: a. of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; b. departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature. 

Don't take my word for it; go to any website on the Big Bang and find how the starting point is described: "The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe ... (which) sprang into existence as a "singularity"- zones which defy our current understanding of physics."* U.C. Berkeley's website says there are "physical and philosophical difficulties" when one tries to consider everything exploding from nothing, which they say is difficult to imagine in the world we see today.** One of Big Bang's underlying assumptions is the constancy of physical laws (that they've always been as they are today), which theorists admit contradicts singularity. It's a conflicted theory. Then there are problems like star formation, lumpy galaxies, and the like. There are actually many difficulties with Big Bang, which isn't actually the original theory at all, but has undergone many revisions:
Full article:
Despite a supernatural, unobservable starting point (singularity) naturalists in general consider Big Bang hard science. Most don't question the theory and assume it's true a priori, (understandable since it's presented as hard science in classrooms K-12) but a little research or a more science-dedicated person will produce facts like the expansion of space and CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) radiation as sufficient proof to elevate Big Bang to fact.

Enter creationists. We also have a supernatural starting point which is difficult to imagine when we look at the world today, (so is a 40-ft dinosaur) but many of us have empirical, tested reasons to trust this theory. Many don't question and assume it's true a priori, though cultural vitriol toward anything Christian is driving more and more people to do the homework and discover a literal avalanche of hard evidence supporting the Bible as a history book (this topic needs its own post). A little research or a person more educated in science and/or textual criticism will produce facts like the expansion of space and CMB radiation ... and history, anthropology, philosophical/scientific cohesion, consistency, etc. as sufficient proof of creationism to accept the theory as fact - and the creation account remains consistent and rational (if currently unpopular) over thousands of years. History is replete with examples of popularity as a poor indicator of truth; remember when the world's 'leading scientists' had hard evidence the earth was flat?***

Facts are neutral. Rock layers and outward-moving stars don't have an opinion; they just are. Thus, the same facts are interpreted differently with creation as a starting point than they are with Big Bang.

As for (macro)evolution? No one has ever seen it. We've seen adaptation within kinds, which is a huge leap from one kind growing into another - so rare that no one has ever observed a single instance. So it's hardly confirmed observational science; it's an interesting theory (with its own suitcase of issues like microbiology, skepticism even from secular scholars, and a profound lack of fossil record backup).

So when you look into it a bit, there's really no reason at all for a person with a naturalistic worldview to dismiss a creationist's worldview as unscientific because it entertains the supernatural or is lacking in facts. I'd argue that the creation side actually cites greater, more comprehensive evidence - and is more realistic by its open acknowledgement of the supernatural starting point obviously necessary for both theories.

Look into it! Compare information to the many great resources at God will never ask you to check your brain at the door!

:) Carole

*** That was 1490AD. Isaiah, written 700BC and readable today in the Dead Sea Scrolls, cites the earth as ROUND. See Isaiah 40:22

Run Wild!

This guy's HAIR, flaunted with style during the late 1800s and early 1900s, is worthy of its own post. How he managed a serious face with that flow is more than I can grasp. But the oft-quoted G.K. Chesterton made me smile today when I read this: "The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild."

My calling as a mother may be re-defined.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Don't Talk to the Idiots

The Nye-Ham debate was awkward and exhausting, but in the end I found it a useful trial balloon to get people freely talking about a largely taboo subject. I'm a big fan of intellectual honesty, reason, and humility. Hence, when the majority of responses I read dogmatically dismiss/insult an alternate scientific point of view without citing reasons, I'm baffled.

Yes, dogmatic, and not intended to insult.
Here's what the word means:

1. a statement or opinion forcibly asserted as if authoritative and unchallengeable.
2. based on assumption rather than empirical observation.

We usually hear this word used with religious folk,** but if I'm not mistaken it accurately describes the way many critics of creation theory actively shut down the debate -- and even demand that anyone who holds other than a naturalistic philosophy actually be excluded from science disciplines/discussion altogether. Some examples to illustrate:

"Some scientists criticized Nye for taking part in the debate, saying it gave credibility and funding to creationists."

"The issue is settled: evolution is a fact." - Jerry Coyne, Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago

"The 'theory' of evolution is actually a fact - as incontrovertible a fact as any in science ... if a real scientist goes onto a debating platform with a creationist, it gives them a respectability. I will not have a discussion with somebody who has a genuinely different scientific point of view." - Richard Dawkins

Not a lot of proof or open minds there. But from what I read, it's OK to be dogmatic and insulting, because the whole group are irrational idiots and worse. (Ken Ham invited Bill Nye to debate after he literally equated teaching creation with child abuse.) Here are a few milder examples news articles and on social media to illustrate the attitude with which the message is delivered:

"Creationism is not just evil, immoral, and anti-social; it is also **** insulting to sane people's intelligence."

"They hate reason, so I don't associate with them at all."

"Lumping creationists together is perfectly adequate as they're all similarly irrational and like to ignore commonly agreed-upon facts from the scientific community."

"Dear creationists: You are STUPID. Genuinely STUPID."

This attitude isn't fringe. Insults, "we all know" justification, and condescending evasion easily outweigh any meaningful critique of creationism. It's sad to have to explain why this is wrong, but I submit a few reasons:

1.  Reason. If evidence for evolution so greatly outweighs creationism, why not compare facts and let the information show whether something is silly? If you find evolution theory solid, how many reasonable creationists ("Oxymoron!" I hear them cry) have you made an effort to find, read, or engage?

2. Humility/consideration. I am aware that I - and the majority - may be and have been wrong. I submit that people who subscribe to evolution as human beings are likewise fallible. This is why I listen and take the time to try to understand views which oppose my own without making or taking it personal/ly. We can be wrong, and consequently improve. It isn't easy; it's tedious and painful, but it's good for us! Most critics of creationism have not given the theory a whit of serious consideration because of a violent anti-God bias that borders on anaphylaxis. Why reject outright rather than (calmly) investigate and test like any other theory? I'm not sure that prejudice against an idea without serious consideration, while calling its proponents irrational, is the best way to model logic and reason to imbeciles.

3. Decency. Think of a common people group whom you care about, and imagine the above comments aimed at them in the name of science, progress, or other ideal. Imagine the same comments directed toward, say, Asians or Muslims to see how ugly the shoe is on the other foot. The insults apply to actual human beings - friends, family, (fully one third of Americans do not subscribe to evolutionary theory) great leaders of America, and even scientists like Newton, Joule, Pasteur, and Kelvin. (For a better list of such past and present scientists go too - all of these are are somehow beneath the evolution elite, deserve their contempt, and should "stay the hell out of science?" Such gratuitous insult to any population with whom we disagree, much less one so broad and integral to our culture, is just ugly.

4. Pity. If we find a group of people greatly in error where we are strong, is the appropriate response ridiculing their lack to make ourselves appear more erudite? What precisely does this accomplish other than a dirty ego boost? I agree with the Biblical admonition not to engage a fool in his folly, but I refuse to label all who agree with evolution as fools - I was in that camp; I get it. If a person seems at all reasonable, I will try to kindly engage him. When those efforts fail, I will give him the last word and bow out; holding out hope for a better outcome next time and almost always learning something in the process. If we callously open fire on someone who has the wrong idea, (much easier now via the internet) have we not just eliminated the possibility of helping them, strengthening our cause, or learning/avoiding our own error?

The approach outlined above seems more productive to me, though this moral regard for people is certainly an outgrowth of my Christ-following worldview. Please comment and let me know what I'm missing something.

Get out there and bring something good to your world today.

:) Carole

** I'll talk a little about the reasonableness of Christianity and other similarities to evolution theory in the next post.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm Black

(Stock photo - this isn't really me*)
I'll bet you didn't know that ... I'm a black person. It'll become evident here in a minute. Most of my early years were spent in less-affluent east Texas and northern Louisiana, so most to all of my classmates were significantly darker than I. There were years when I was the lightest kid by far in my entire grade. I wasn't allowed to bring these friends home, which I thought was strange even in early grade school. I actually heard a Baptist minister say from the pulpit that "colo-red folk as a race have stronger, more athletic bodies than our race because God made them to serve." Unholy crap! I'm eternally grateful for a Mom from the Great White North who called horsepuckey on such bĂȘtise** and got up and hauled us out of the building.
    Actually, both Biblical history and DNA studies describe all humanity as descended from two people (even secular DNA “Eve” had to get pregnant somehow), so there is only one race. The human one.  Hence, Christians have every reason to be the first to lead the anti-racism charge, with complete agreement from the general public. In nature, different kinds can't reproduce, and of course people with different shades of skin make (really cute) babies just fine - I got to squeeze one such adorable little person last evening. Even Aboriginal folks (formerly hunted and stuffed as cave man exhibits because they weren't considered quite human enough) are every bit as human as the pastiest, PhD-wielding cracker alive. As a matter of fact, all of the so-called ‘races’ are really just one kind of human being with a tremendous capacity for diverse physical characteristics. Furthermore, we're ALL brown! Melanin is the same color in each person; some of us just have more brown pigment in our skin than others.
This is me.
If you've ever diluted or concentrated brown paint, differences in skin tone area easily understood. I'm not white; if I were white, I'd be dead and spray painted. So-called "black" people aren't black, either; they're darker brown and often not by much. I'm kind of a lighter middle brown. Here's a shot of me with a halfway decent tan, and even with the flash glare you'll notice that my skin isn't much lighter than the gorgeous bronze-colored skin of the woman above. (I notice we personally identify with our melanin concentration. I should say my skin is tan - not me personally. It’s like having, not being ADHD. Weird.)

This is Monnica.
My lovely friend Monnica's skin comes about as close to Snow White as we get. In this photo, even her flawless skin is *not* actually white; she's a very light peachy tan; not a lot of melanin. And you know what? My skin tone is actually far more similar to the beauty on the top left than Monnica's. Furthermore, compared Monnica, I'm black! (My southern relatives will be horrified; first a "black" president; now we've got one in the closet.) Seriously, if the model above is “black” compared to me, doesn’t it follow?

Monnica, Me, and a Model
Here's a contrast chart sampled from the three unaltered photos to illustrate my blackness so you can see for yourself. I'm in the middle, and more closely resemble the right sample than the left by a long shot – plus there are “unmixed,” thoroughly African, “black” people with lighter skin than me or any swarthly Caucasian, for those to whom this type of thing matters. An ivory-skinned, red haired person is considerably more different-looking than me compared to someone with merely darker skin and hair.
    And then there's the difference in culture. Monnica and I may never understand one another because of the once-great cultural rift between our peoples:  I come from a mix including Germans and Native Americans (collectively distinguished today as Redneck in my case) and she has some hecka lotta Irish. Our people have shared soil for a few generations, but we started out on different continents with vastly different traditions which are still evident in our lives today. (In order to improve race relations, I've developed a taste for stout beer.) Her skin, hair, (don’t use the g-word!***) and occasional slang are in greater contrast to mine than my friends with African heritage, or Asian or Native American, even. Freckles and fiery red hair in some especially Irish folk are profound physical differences we must work to overcome. And American citizens of the 1900s were highly derisive toward immigrating Irish folk in the culture war of that day - remember this?

Our 'people' have treated each other unjustly (is there anyone the Irish and Rednecks haven't fought or wouldn't fight?!) and the tension lingers today. Except that it doesn't.
    Think of it - the differences between Monnica and I are the same OLD differences on which some would build an unbreachable chasm between one another today – appearance, injustice, and culture representing a lofty and destructive form of plain old silly. Now I get that cultures can truly be different. When one friend says, "I need to get back around black people!" I assume in hope that she's missing the culture at home, sadly lacking in less-tan individuals, just like I get a craving to be around the southern culture I was raised with - Utah folk just don't act the same and the weather ain't right. And was slavery a bigger deal than refusal to hire? Absolutely; still is. Slavery is alive and well with people of every color today. But I can hate sexual slavery, for example, without hating heterosexual men, who comprise the bulk of perpetrators. (This would be awkward with five of the former in my house, anyway.) Regardless of the injustices of generations long past, they're no excuse to continue dividing regular people today because they have minor physical/cultural variations. Frankly, it’s finally possible that today’s chronic offendedness hurts and certainly annoys more people than racism.
    Doesn't that make more sense? No pandering; no hatred and separation; just a bunch of beautifully varied human beings enjoying life together without finding ridiculous reasons to shame or exclude somebody. I like it!

Hang together, people!

;) Carole

* I would have used a picture of another friend with darker skin to further impede possible "RACIST!" accusatory histrionics, but either her skin didn't work for the illustration or people might cry "of course she's light - mixed race!" so I tried to pick a more culturally classic picture. Darker friend references available upon request.

** Word of the week.

*** GINGER. There, I said it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Running Tips from the Queen of Slackers

I have a few things to share with you to help those of us who struggle with running and/or consistently doing anything ... not because I'm a pro at running, but rather because I understand slacking better than the people who write the demotivational Nazi running posters that make me want to throw up all over my $25 running shoes from Costco. I gathered a few things which have helped me effectively dethrone my inner two-year-old, so maybe they'll put a little wind in your sails, too:

1. Do a little instead of waiting until the right time. I was doing races in 2010, but by this year I honestly could only make it to the end of my block. I didn't sweat it (actually I REALLY sweated, hah!) and did the "run a block/walk a block" (or so) thing for a few miles until I could do more. And I never ran in the cold because I'm a sissy. Who the heck cares that you "only" did a mile and didn't run the whole thing? Drop the ridiculous overachiever goals and have some fun.

1a. Don't worry about the weather! Your body will heat up in 45 seconds, so cold weather is actually perfect for a body that's working, and I've discovered that running in rain is just lovely (see 2).

2. Do it because you love it. Be nice to you, for Heaven's sake! Focus on the fresh (maybe) air and the beauty around you instead of that horrible DRIVEN "I HAVE to do this sucky thing" kind of thinking. Which is especially helpful if you ...

3. Get and maintain a few KICKING running playlists! Find a young adult and have him help you navigate an iPod thingy. (Can I rave for a minute about how difficult it is to find CLEAN MUSIC with a good beat?! Holy heck. Thank God I have knowledgeable advisers like Hunter to help me through the miasma of modern music: "NO, MOM! No, that one is very bad; try this.") I promise you, the sound of bumpin' songs is MUCH more fun than listening to yourself suck air! That automatically makes me feel all pathetic and sorry for myself. Here's my new fave list (I wore out my other one; mostly Family Force Five and Portable Sounds):

  • White House, Vanessa Carlton
  • Grounds for Divorce, Elbow
  • Let Me Think About It, Ida Corr (Jon in Danger song; not for kids)
  • Sweet Disposition, Temper Trap
  • Next to Me, Emeli SandĂ© (This woman is my inner persona.)
  • Fall Into the Sky, Zedd & Lucky Date
  • Crave You, Flight Facilities
  • Hey Hey, Dennis Ferrer
  • A Little Party Never Killed Nobody, Fergie
  • I Lived, One Republic
  • Original Harlem Shake. Don't laugh; it's a good run song!
  • When Love Takes Over, David Guetta
  • Home, Simply Red
  • Lights On, Katy B.
  • Eye of the Tiger, Survivor (makes me giggle)
  • She Wolf/Falling to Pieces, David Guetta
  • Satisfaction, Benny Benassi
  • One More Night, Maroon 5
4. Give Fear the Finger! Ruthlessly drive fear out when you encounter it; fear cripples everything! I'm afraid I'm slow. Who cares? But I'm slower than everybody. Run alone! I'm worried about snow. Whatever! Maybe I won't stick with it. Not today! Seriously, don't put up with that mental crap. (Running is also a great time to talk out your fears, frustrations, friends, concerns, etc. with God, though I actually connect with Him a lot more during Yoga. Ask me about that sometime.)

5. Get Everything Ready. I need a *lot* of details (I DESPISE DETAILS!!) to run: shoes, two pairs socks, tights, iPod w/headphones, ear muff band, hat, special running jacket, Glock w/holster, conceal carry permit, etc. So after each run, I make a stack of everything and have gear in my jacket pockets so it's ready so I can jump into yoga, running, or whatever at the drop of a hat. (Yes, I put the Glock in a safe and don't leave it loaded on the floor for my children to play with if you're wondering.)

6.  Run because you CAN. I was complaining about "having to run" to Dad last year before he died, and I'll never forget what he said. Somehow staying positive, he smiled and said, "Man, I'd love to be able to just walk to my Jeep!" I've never looked at it the same again. My friend Rob has evil life-robbing sarcoidosis (again with the finger) and I took his blogs about the *privilege* of good health to heart. Right now, my body can do a good eight miles, so I think, "Why NOT?!" Your body is a powerful machine! If you CAN, DO! It'll come with time.

7. Don't run; DANCE! I love to dance! Have you been on the dance floor, pouring sweat and gasping for air, but you HAVE to get back out there because THEY'RE PLAYING THAT SONG?! Same with running. I'd stop, but GAAAHH I love this song! I even high five other runners, head bop, Road Rave, and bust into a little Hammertime on the trail because girlfriend is having a seriously good time. Beats the pants off of "NO PAIN; NO GAIN" doesn't it? 

I hope this is helpful to you in your struggle against not just running block, but whatever stupid downer thinking is going on in your head regarding ANY issue in your life.

Get it!

:D Carole

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Story 5: As Normal as it Gets

And then everything was fine, right? Well, sort of. We've done a lot of growing up since 2000 that boils down to Jon and I making a conscious decision to 1. Find out how God says we should do life, and 2. DO that before you have a chance to over-think it. And after you've figured out it will cost you something. A few years before Ed (Jon's dad) died our family had an end-of-the world experience where we learned more about the cost of following Jesus. 

While doing literally everything in our power to deal with what should have been just another transition, we found ourselves alone. (Well, as "alone" as you get with five kids.) Pay attention when God gets you alone and you can't fix it; He usually has a reason. Our little Manning clan went through a few truly awful years of damage, insecurity and outright persecution with next to zero support. We had one trusted counselor who ruthlessly subjected us to Biblical counsel and actually expected us to live the stuff we said we believed - even when people were mean! It was a really painful, uncomfortable, over-stretching process that took more than a year. We had to humbly face down some pretty intimidating people and tell them things in love that they really did not want to hear. We in turn learned some ugly things about ourselves that needed changing. We learned to endure insults without retaliation (do try that sometime). As a result, we became rock solid in our very own faith in God with or without the support of people who matter. And some people who matter were restored to us.

My life has insane blessings; don't get me wrong. I could (do, and will) blog ad nausaum about the ridiculous fairy tale that much of my life frankly is and the many things God has done for me. But He has also allowed me to be crushed and to know suffering - and I highlight these things in my little story not to glorify the ouch, but to attempt to illustrate that He is MUCH greater. Even when I am nothing and have nothing, I follow One who was described as "a man of sorrows, well-acquainted with suffering;" no one gets hurt better than Jesus. This is both excruciating and a comfort - think about it: once you've been thrown to the lions and walked into the arena with your head held high singing God's praise knowing He's with you - whom or what can you really fear? Things which would usually wreck everything start to seem petty by comparison, and I start seeing life through different glasses. I thought if God loved me he would make life easier, but instead He gives me His strength that can endure storms.

Here's a quote that occurred to me while pondering this: "I think among the greatest, least-desired gifts acquired by following Jesus is an unbelievable capacity to endure suffering without it changing our course; not allowing pain so high a place that it may keep us from extending grace to others." I like that.

So to wrap up for a bit, it's interesting to me to examine the person I've become through eyes I used to have. I'm lousy at praying, but am glad when I can hack out quality time to spend talking with and worshiping Jesus. I'm happiest when I honor my husband; love my kids; and put others first. I'm dying to be able to give more. The Bible is my compass and surest communication with the God I love, and even pain makes me more rich. All of these are so foreign to my self-will that I have to smile in recognition - that's God's Spirit alive and well in the heart of one Carole Q. Manning.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Story 4: Darkness

Our marriage's near-death experience and stress from family/church involvement took their toll, and I think everything kind of hit me at once. I dropped weight and my hair started falling out, and I could barely drag myself through life. I had my thyroid tested and discovered instead that I was really, really depressed. This was not good news to me.

Depression is a truly scary thing. I felt like I was walking around in a nightmare much of the time with no hope of getting out. If you've seen the movie What Dreams May Come, there's a scene where the wife gets lost in a bad place that comes close to a description. She's alone surrounded by dark, colorless wreckage and talks about the spiders coming. There's a breathtaking despair that's captured really well; there's just no strength to face getting out of bed, much less my past and current problems.

I started taking Prozac as prescribed by my doctor, and within a month it really helped a lot. A huge weight was lifted, and I was able to face life and work through some things with Jon. I was on the medication for several years, and the horror of what life had been banished any thought of ever not taking it. 

Fast forward to life when Simon was a baby in 2000. We were going to The Adventure Church and being mentored and seriously loved on by Eric and Jodi VanRhee. They're known for their lavish love, great wisdom, and extreme dedication to God, His word, and His people. The kind of encouragement God's Spirit pours into people through them is exhilarating! So much so that, after much prayer and frankly terror, I point-blanked Eric and asked whether he thought I should attempt life off Prozac. That's a tricky question to ask anyone, and to me it felt like asking, "So could I possibly be OK if I stop breathing air?" Eric is one seriously bold dude. I don't remember his exact words, but first, he prayed down the fire for me, and second he encouraged me to give it a try, but gradually. I was really, really scared that the bottom would fall out again, but I did it. To the best of my knowledge, God wanted this, though it wasn't black and white. So I took a deep breath, prayed for help, and threw myself out there.

It's funny how when I ask God for something the right resource (or the thing itself) will show up. I read everything I could find on depression, especially a Biblical approach. I found and read Tim LaHaye's book How to Win Over Depression, a hokey-looking, impossible-sounding book written in the 70s. Here's what I learned from this book:

  • Depression can come from a lot of things, and mental choices have tremendous influence. What I "eat" mentally, for example, has a huge influence on my mood. In college I listened to Nine Inch Nails (still praying for Trent Reznor!) and Depeche Mode, read vampire slaughter practically-porn novels, and rehearsed my problems/inadequacies in my head constantly. Stupid! To this day, I avoid horror, banal sexuality, and feeding my head and heart any other kind of negativity.
  • One section in the books is called Self Pity and Depression. Oh man. Can I tell you how not-fun it was to discover that I wasted a lot of energy rolling in the mire feeling sorry for myself? This is neither healthy, moral, nor constructive!
  • The real meat of the book is Bible verses. Do I really believe my inadequacies are bigger than God's ability to heal them? No. And sometimes He doesn't heal regardless of what we believe. But I won't get in the way. The Bible calls itself a "living and active thing," and it's true. Hearing pure truth strengthens the soul like iron! I typed up the verses I needed onto a sheet of paper I carried around like an inhaler in my purse, and when I'd have a "depression attack," I'd get the paper out and read myself through it! Laugh if you want - it worked!
Side note: I realize not everyone who reads my blog gives a rip about anything pertaining to God. No problem! But it's silly to make the subject taboo; there's no pressure to buy into anything, and it's good practice getting comfortable with an alternate worldview.

That was the year 2000. I've been drug-free for the thirteen years since then.