On a Book Review about Yes

Because the interchange between science and religion is a hobby of mine, I’ve read my share of books and articles on the topic – so I recognize many of the leading names in the field. Dr. Denis Lamoureux is one of those authors, but I haven’t lamoureuxbookcoverread any of his work. That’s why I placed Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! on my reading list while snowbirding in warmer weather this past January.

Dr. Lamoureux is a Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. Interesting that some colleges have at least a designation of science and religion as a study.

In this book, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates the concept of the existence of two books: The Book of Word (Scripture) and the Book of Works (Nature). This thought has been around for many years as people as Galileo and Francis Bacon used it – but it remains timely today. Lamoureux encourage readers to listen to both books. I was already aware of this concept, so for me, this book reinforces the point.

Dr. Lamoureux also weaves his personal story into the text – his moments of wrestling with science and faith. His journey from Christianity to Atheism to 7-day Creationist to theistic evolutionist is interesting in itself. Because of his experiences, he knows the trials and tribulations people face while understanding the source of their angst. Yet, in this text, I felt him encouraging others.

Because of his involvement with the opposing ends of this topic’s spectrum, Lamoureux knows that the opposing ends force people to make a choice. Therefore, he includes the important concept of dichotomous decisions throughout the text; as well as the effects of forced choices as causing some to lose their faith or not follow a personal dream of a science career – especially in biology.

Along his personal journey, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates words from Richard Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist and staunch atheist), Michael Behe (a biochemist and important Intelligent Design Theory advocate), Charles Darwin, and Scripture. It’s through those interactions that Lamoureux helps readers understand the issues and rationale behind different viewpoints.

Dr. Lamoureux’s passions are apparent in the text. His passion about the interchange. His passion about science. His passion as a Christian – and through these passions he shines a light on the path for those who want to know how to harmonize religion and science without compromising personal faith.

As a university professor, Dr. Lamoureux’s students are at many positions on the continuum of religion and science – especially regarding evolution. Not only does he weave some his encounters along the way, he dedicates an entire chapter (the last one) to various discussions with students. This was priceless for me.

Readers should be aware that Dr. Lamoureux’s view of intelligent design is different than Behe’s Intelligent Design Theory. Although I understand and agree with his point, the natural similarity of the wordings bothered me for some reason. On the other hand, I am over that minor discomfort.

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! is an excellent book for those who struggle with a literal Genesis and evolution. It’s also an excellent read for those who do not struggle because it provides reasons they may not know. Lamoureux’s words are rooted in an unwavering belief in the two books that successfully intertwine science and religion.

Two sidebars
Somewhere in the book I noticed that Dr. Lamoureux did a TEDx Talk, so I watched. I recommend this 14-minute lecture because it is a mini-version of this book. Besides, Dr. Lamoureux is also a good speaker. His lecture is below.

After reading the book and watching the lecture, I emailed Dr. Lamoureux. Not only did I appreciate that he took the time to respond, but we also engaged in dialogue, He also gave me additional resources. All of which I am grateful.

On Darwin’s Faith

Depending on one’s perspective, Charles Darwin is a lightning rod and a foundation. Opposing sides in the theology-evolution issue use him in different ways. Whereas conservative Christians describe him as an immoral, hateful atheist who is a messenger from the devil, evolution supporters refer to him as a scholar, a brilliant thinker, and even an inspiration.

Interesting how the two views of one life differ based a perspective of a forced choice that some present. In terms of his religion, Darwin faith life was filled with struggle. Below are chronological moments in Charles Darwin’s religious life. Besides, February 12th is his 208th birthday.

1809: Charles Darwin is born into a family of a father who was a religious skeptic, a Unitarian mother, and 4 siblings (3 sisters and a brother) who attended church with their mother. His paternal grandfather was a deist, as was Darwin’s brother.

1817: Darwin’s mother died. Thereafter, his older sisters took him to an Anglican church where he remained and was educated. At the time, the Anglican church had a 6-day, young-earth creationist view of the world.

1828: After several years in medical school at the University of Edinburgh, Darwin enters Cambridge University to study theology. Studies introduce him to Paley’s Natural Theology, which influenced his beliefs in a God intervening in creation.

1831: Darwin graduates from Cambridge with a theology degree, but decided not to pursue being an ordained pastor. A geology field trip initiated the thought that the earth is very old, therefore developing a view of today’s old-earth creationists with an intervening God as the designer. Later that year he begins his 5-year journey on the HMS Beagle.

1831-1836: Through his many observations across the globe, Darwin is convinced God is present in nature and that God was the intervening designer.

1836-1839: After his journey, Darwin thought deeply about biology, geology, and theology, so he spend much time writing. He rejected origins based on Genesis 1 and eventually Christianity – but not God.

1839: Marries Emma (a Unitarian) in an Anglican ceremony. They would eventually have 10 children, two of which died in infancy.

1851: Annie, his second oldest child and the “apple of her proud father’s eye” dies after an illness of several years. This devastated Darwin, and some say this greatly impacted his view of suffering.

1856: Starts writing On the Origin of the Species.

1859: On the Origin of the Species is published. In it Darwin mentions god as the Creator on multiple occasions – signally his shift from a traditional theist to a non-traditional theist with God as the creator of the evolutionary process.

1860-1861: Reflecting on reactions people had about the book, Darwin writes to a Harvard botanist, “I had no intention to write atheistically … my views are not at all necessarily atheistical.” He also admits being troubled by the suffering that occurs in nature and in the world, but reinforces a belief in design by a Creator.

1871: The Descent of Man published. While acknowledging the “highly irreligious” will denounce his work, he supports his belief in a Creator at work in designing life. “The birth both of the species and of the individual are equally parts of that grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to accept as the result of blind chance.”

1876: Because of his struggles with suffering, he continues to question God’s existence. In his biography Darwin explains his belief in God as an intelligent designed and states, “I deserve to be called a theist.” His writings point to one who believes in a god that is not assigned to one particular religion. Later he concludes, “The mystery of the beginning of all things is not solvable by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

1879: Although agnostic, Darwin writes this powerful sentence about evolution and theology in a letter: “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man be an ardent theist and an evolutionists. …. In my extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God …. I think that as I grow older, but not always, that an Agnostic would be a more correct description of my state of mind.”

1882: After a difficult 3 months with health issues, Charles Darwin dies – and never an atheist. Reports of him recanting his view of evolution and proclaiming Jesus Christ as savior lack evidence, therefore untrue. He is buried in London’s Westminster Abbey (Anglican).

On 39

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

April 2, 1977 – that was the day of our wedding in a Cleveland (Ohio) suburb. It was cross-state from my home, but a good group of my family and friends attended.

I graduated the previous June, then came to Cincinnati for my first job. She graduated a few weeks before the wedding, then joined me in Cincinnati after our honeymoon in Hilton Head, SC.

Since then, she knows I love trivia – or in her terms – useless information – this is the perfect post for our celebration – more useless information the number 39 in one place than one ever imagined. Yep – I’m quite the romantic.

In Language
Тридесет девет (Bulgarian), Trenta nove (Italian), Tridsať deväť (Slovak), Trettio nio (Swedish), Ba mươi chín (Vietnamese), XXXIX (Roman numerals) … Know any others?

In Mathematics
39 – a natural number, an odd integer that is divisible by 1, 3, 13, and 39

39 – a distinct semiprime number, a Perfect totient number, a Perrin number, Størmer number

39 – the number of edges on a F26A graph

39 – the sum of consecutive primes (3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13) and the product of the second and sixth prime (3 x 13)

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

In Chemistry
39 – the atomic number of yttrium, whose neutrally charged atom has 39 protons and 39 electrons

In Biology
Brodmann area 39 (BA39) – part of the human brain’s parietal cortex

39 – Number of chromosome pairs in the cells of African wild dogs, Chickens, Coyotes, Dholes, Dingos, Dogs, Doves, and Golden Jackal

In Astronomy
39 – the Saros series number for 73 lunar eclipses over 1298.1 years

39 – the star number that is in many constellations including Andromeda, Aquarius, Auriga, Boötes,Cancer, Draco, Eridanus, and more

In Religion
39 – according to Halakha, the number of activity categories prohibited on Shabbat

39 – the number of mentions of work or labor in the Torah

39 – the actual number of lashes given by the Sanhedrin to a person meted the punishment of 40 lashes

39 – according to Protestant canon, the number of books in the Old Testament

39 – the number of statements in Anglican Church doctrine known as the Thirty-Nine Articles

Papyrus 39 – an early papyrus manuscript of the New Testament in Greek of the Gospel of John, but only John 8:14-22

Psalm 39 (Prayer for Wisdom and Forgiveness)

39 – other than numerical designations for pages, chapters, etc, 39 does not directly appear in the Bible

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

In Arts and Entertainment
39 – Comedian Jack Benny’s perpetual age after 40

39th Tony Awards – winner include Biloxi Blues, Big River, and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

In Literature
The Thirty-Nine Steps – a novel by John Buchan (1915), which has been transformed into multiple films (info later), a play, a television feature, and a video game

The 39 Clues – a book series revolving around 39 clues hidden around the world.

Sonnet 39 by William Shakespeare

In Television
39 – the number of days contestants compete on Survivor (the CBS reality show)

39 – the number of episodes done the 1955-1956 season of The Honeymooners (commonly referred to as the “Classic 39”).

The 39 Steps is a 2008 BBC adventure feature-length adaptation of the John Buchan novel The Thirty-Nine Steps

39th Emmys – winners included Golden Girls (Best Comedy) and L.A. Law (Best Drama)

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

In Film
Based on The Thirty-Nine Steps – the novel by John Buchan (1915) – are four versions:

  • The 39 Steps (1935 film), directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • The 39 Steps (1959 film), directed by Ralph Thomas
  • The Thirty Nine Steps (1978 film), directed by Don Sharp
  • The 39 Steps (2008 film), directed by James Hawes

Glorious 39 – a 2009 drama film set at the beginning of World War II

39th Academy Awards – Oscars go to A Man for All Seasons (Best Picture), Fred Zinnemann (Best Actor), and Elizabeth Taylor (Best Actress)

39 Steps (band), a rock band appearing in Woody Allen’s film Hannah and Her Sisters

In Music
39 – a song by The Cure and Tenacious D

FabricLive.39 – a 2008 mix album by DJ Yoda

Fabric 39 – a 2008 album by Robert Hood.

39 Steps – an album by guitarist John Abercrombie (2013)

Now 39 (aka Now That’s What I Call Music! 39) – the 39th release of music featuring top singles i the UK.

Symphony No. 39 in G minor – written by Joseph Haydn 1767/1768)

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

In World History
39 – Forty save one: the traditional number of times citizens of Ancient Rome hit their slaves

39 – the duration (in nanoseconds) of the nuclear reaction in the largest nuclear explosion ever (the Russian Tsar Bomba detonated on 30 October 1961)

39 – the number of Scud missiles Iraq fired at Israel during the Gulf War (1991)

Year 39 CE

  • A common year starting on Thursday
  • Tigellinus, minister and favorite of the Roman emperor Nero, is banished for adultery with Caligula’s sisters.
  • Philo leads a Jewish delegation to Rome to protest the anti-Jewish conditions in Alexandria.
  • The Trung Sisters resist the Chinese influences in Vietnam.
  • Born – Lucan (Roman poet) and Titus Flavius (future Roman emperor)
  • Deaths – Seneca the Elder (Roman rhetorician)

Year 39 BC

  • A common year starting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday or a leap year starting on Saturday
  • Sextus Pompey (self-proclaimed “son of Neptune”) controlled Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica
  • Born – Antonia Major (daughter of Mark Antony, grandmother of Nero and Messalin),
    Julia the Elder (daughter of Caesar Augustus)

In US History
39 – the number of signers to the United States Constitution

39th President of the United States – Jimmy Carter

Number 39 – the Federalist Paper essay by James Madison describing the nature of the United States government as a new idea. (The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles,
published January 18, 1788)

Title 39 – the United States Code outlining the role of United States Postal Service

39th Congress – served from 4 March 1865 – 4 March 1867 during the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln (1 month) and Andrew Johnson

Image from cooltext.com

Image from cooltext.com

In Sports
39 – the number of wooden boards normally consisting a bowling lane

Retired #39 Uniforms
MLB – Roy Campanella (Dodgers)
NFL – Larry Csonka (Dolphins)
NBA – none
NHL – Dominik Hašek (Sabres)

Super Bowl XXXIX – New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 on February 6, 2005 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida

NASCAR #39 – in 422 races, #39 won 4 races (all by Ryan Newman)

In Geography
39th Parallel north – crosses land in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China, North Korea, Japan, and United States

39th Parallel south – crosses land in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina

39th Meridian west – crosses land in Greenland and Brazil

39 Meridian east – crosses in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia,Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique

National Highway 39 – found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany
India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States

Pier 39 – a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco, California

I-39 – a US interstate highway from Normal, Illinois to Wausau, Wisconsin

In Miscellaneous
The 39 Steps is video game adaptation of Buchan’s book

39 – the international code for direct-dialed phone calls to Italy

ICL Series 39 – a range of mainframe and minicomputer computer systems released by the UK manufacturer ICL in 1985

Curse of 39 – the belief in some parts of Afghanistan that the number 39 is cursed or a badge of shame associated with prostitution

39 – Japanese Internet chat slang for “Thank You” when written with numbers (3=San 9=Kyuu)

Lace – the traditional gift for a 39th wedding anniversary

On Planned or Not

There’s a great data department in the sky – that department is responsible for checking people in or out on a given date at a designated time.

The check-ins are the births. The assigned clerk has a card for Justin, who will check in later during the shift (3:52 am UTC) at 9 lbs 8 oz (4.3 kg). Before pacing the card to Accounting for record keeping during life on Earth, the noticed that Justin would eventually become a CEO of a prominent global company and live to the ripe age of 95.

William’s card was directly behind Justin’s because he is to be born two seconds later at a different hospital. Checking the records, the clerk applies a special sticker for expedition to the check-out group.

Accounting is much more high-tech as it tracks everyone’s determined roles for that day. With all the people in the world, there’s always much happening … and those occasional glitches in the system can cause a bit of disarray. But the Accounting staff works well under pressure, thus can get the plan back on track with seemingly unnoticeable successful adjustments.

Over in Check-Out, clerks are dealing with car accidents, cancer, heart attacks, murder, drowning, and many others. One particular clerk is unaware that William’s card will arrive at their desk for processing in a matter of hours. From the living human perspective, these clerks have a tough job … but they also look at it from a different perspective.

Some Christians see life this way – that is everything is predetermined in accordance to God’s plan for that individual – including meeting a person that turned out to be a network opportunity for potential employment … but could that have encounter been coincidental?

I don’t know why I used to believed in predestination – after all, I wasn’t taught that way in Catholic catechism … no friend guided me in that direction … I didn’t read it in an influential book … so I probably guided myself that way for whatever reason.

During my mid-20s and early in my teaching career, I met Nancy – a very bright and personable student whose father happened to be a Baptist minister. In a discussion with her, I mentioned the great database in the sky, to which she responded with a very important question – Do you really think God is that cruel?

Although it did take a long time to answer that question to myself (and I don’t know when I did), her question remained active in my mind for 40 years – but in a good way – well, at least for me.

There is no way I believe that God sent Hurricane Katrina to punish the people of New Orleans. God didn’t sent a horrific tsunami to Indonesia, or a drunk driver wildly across a road to collide with an unsuspected vehicle that killed multiple people – including a small child, a teen, and a parent. God doesn’t plan for people to be homeless, have mental illness, or be malnourished.

God didn’t make a networking opportunity possible, didn’t send volunteers to a disaster area, or provide a hole-in-one to a golfer. Nope, God didn’t make Justin a successful CEO, and Nancy wasn’t sent to me to deliver a message.

God didn’t inflict cancer on my mother nor any other unsuspecting person. God didn’t plan a young child drowning in a pool, a person’s violent shooting spree, or the physical deformities that would take William’s life in less than a day.

Nope – God isn’t that cruel .. and God isn’t playing out the world as if it was a video game. God is good. Free will is a gift to the natural world and to human beings, and with free will, many events will happen – positive and negative – which includes bad things to good people.

Thank you, Professor Nancy.

Other Posts on Free Will

 

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 220

On Politics
Is there a difference between a politician rebranding, repositioning, or evolving for personal gain and lying?

As the Benghazi beat goes on, I ponder this question: White House spin and Republican conspiracy theories? After all, both ways produce misinformation.

The kidnapping of the Nigerian girls is sad and pathetic. However, the conservative spin doctors have amazingly determined the real cause of Boko Haram’s actions – Hillary Clinton! Read it for yourself here. It’s probably safe to say that if she wasn’t a strong potential 2016 candidate for the Democrats, she wouldn’t have been blamed.

With many political pundits focusing on former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, I found this article interesting.

When it comes to caring for veterans, both parties are woefully inadequate.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Stone-hearted ice witch forgoes exclamation point
  • Study: Seeing Jesus in toast is perfectly normal
  • Pharmaceutical industry reeling as more mom’s making vaccines at home
  • Opposing team terrified after seeing home fans all wearing same color t-shirt
  • Budget woes force Heaven to reduce eternal life to 500 billion years
  • Report: Growing number of Americans forced to make ends meet by collaborating on song with Pitbull

Bonus Tips from The Onion

Interesting Reads

On Potpourri
The coal mining accident in Turkey is horrible. Peace and strength to all involved and affected.

Multiple US cities are hosting the Great American Beer Run, in which participates get a pint of craft beer every half mile (800 meters). The event’s FAQ page is a good one.

Running events are common fundraisers. In Cincinnati last weekend one charity effort involved running .05K …. that’s 164 feet (50 meters).

Wow – the dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Museum was quite moving.

The current season of Dancing with the Stars is nearing an end. Overall, the dancing has been very good. As in past years, viewer voting did something stupid. How and the heck could Charlie White get the lowest number of votes?

Life: The Musical returns next week, so I will announce the Act 4 theme on the next edition of Monday Morning Entertainment.

Time has worked against me this week, so no Saturday Morning Cartoon Classic post this weekend.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Bats Day, Biographer’s Day, Endangered Species Day, Virtual Assistants Day, O. Henry Pun-Off Day, NASCAR Day, Bike to Work Day, Pizza Party Day, Spaghetti-Os Day, Sea Monkey Day, Pickle Day, Piercing Day, Coquilles St. Jacques Day
  • (Sat) Mike: the Headless Chicken Day, Armed Forces Day, Morel Mushroom Day, Merry-Go-Round Day, Rat Pack Day, Hypertension Day, Turn Beauty Inside Out Day, Information Society Day, Telecommunications Day, Neurofibromatosis Day, Cherry Cobbler Day
  • (Sun) I Love Reeses Day, Museum Day, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Mother Whistler Day, Neighbor Day, Visit Your Relatives Day, Cheese Souffle Day, No Dirty Dishes Day

To send you into the weekend, let’s travel back to 1965 when. Dominigo Zamudio had the first Billboard Number One Record of the Year that never made it to #1 on any week – a feat that stood alone for 35 years. Dominigo Zamudio? Yep – he’s also known as Sam. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Flashbacks: On Religion

Religious choices are a personal decision. Although I’m a regular church attendee, I try to be respectful to all. Enjoy, visit as many as you want, and I hope you comment on the post you visited.

On Election Night 2012

It’s Election Night in America. I wrote this post several days ago with this night in mind so, at the time I publish this, the elections results are young and without a declared winner in the race for president.

While one party likes to walk around with the pocket Constitutions, all members of Congress swear to uphold it. The U.S. Constitution is an interesting document, but to me, the following are the three most important words: We the people.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People elect members to Congress to represent We the People in order to pass laws, control the budget, and exercise authorities granted by the Constitution.

We the People elect members to represent all people, which means not just the ones who voted for the elected; not an ideology; not a political party; not a religion, not a financial donor, not a special interest – but yes, to represent We the People.

We the People elect members to serve all people regardless of their faith, thus the elected are not to serve their religious preference. After all, the Constitution is quite clear regarding religion. Let the elected not forget that the Constitution lacks words as God, Creation, Christian, Jesus, and Lord (which only appears in the Signatory section).

Although Christian principles may have influenced the Founding Fathers, the Constitution does not declare the U.S. as a Christian nation. If the elected represent Christianity, what about the nonChristians? If the elected represents Christianity, which denomination will you represent? Then, what about the other Christians?

We the People are from all faiths and no faiths, therefore, our representatives should avoid submitting proposals on behalf of Christianity because what the church considers best for itself may not be in the best interest of We the People.

Representing We the People requires avoidance of firm ideology or a party each of these diverts attention from the needs of We the People. Adherence to a party or ideology silences We the People, and blocks the path to meaningful solutions.

Representing We the People requires conviction to represent the needs of the people who did not vote for the elected. After all, they too are We the People.

Representing We the People requires patience, the ability to listen, to desire to find the common good for all, to watch-out for and respond to human need that is beyond one’s self interests, party, or ideology.

Representing We the People requires discussing among yourselves to share ideas and concerns in order to work toward a solution for the common good – an idea that may be found in one side, the other, a compromise, or outside the grounds established by ideology, party, religion, self-interest, or special interest.

We the People need effective government to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, to provide a common defense, to promote general welfare, and to secure liberty for all of We the People. Especially during this time, we need our elected officials to make difficult decisions – the ones that test their gut against their party, their ideology, their religion, their self-interest, their donors, and special interests.

Along with a president, on this day we elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 33 members (approximately one-third) of the Senate. Their task seems simple, but I also know they will represent religion, a party, an ideology, self-interests, special interests, and donors over We the People – therefore, let me be the first to say the following about the newly elected, ‘Starting in 2014, throw the bums out. All of them! Clean house!” After all, We the People deserve better.