Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our family mourns the passing last week of a dear friend, Dr. Ted Mock. He had a brilliant mind that harmonized faith and science, and he will be missed. Below is a reprise of a blog interview I had with Dr. Mock a couple years ago.

2006 Interview with Ted Mock...

I was curious about recent scientific news reported in Newsweek Magazine. So I consulted family friend, Dr. Ted Mock, who is a scientist. Dr. Mock has some interesting thoughts on science and God. I have his permission to share the note below.

With respect to your query pertaining to the origin of the universe, let me preface my remarks with the statement that many scientists like myself believe in a “world of reason” and a “world of faith,” and properly understood they shed light on each other, they are never in actual conflict with one another, and they simply must be accepted on the basis of their own terms.

Scientists and mathematicians – [think here of the well known Goedel's Theorem that proves the existence of meaningful mathematical statements that are neither provable nor disprovable, now or ever] – have accepted the fact that there are some statements that can neither be proven true nor false. To my way of thinking, scientists will never be able to “prove” nor “disprove” the existence of God. We can admire his handiwork and marvel at how he created the world and everything in it, but we will each have to accept his existence on the basis of our faith.

Scientists are constantly evoking new theories or improving on old ones as to how they believe our universe was created. One of the more popular concepts for the past half century has revolved around the theory of the “Big Bang”. But theoreticians go far beyond that concept to try to explain how the “Big Bang” was generated and how many other universes may have been created at the same time (or at any other period of time). Some theories postulate that we live in a multidimensional space of infinite membranes, and when any two parallel membranes touch at any point at any instant of time, there is a transfer of an immense amount of energy that would appear in the recipient membrane as a “Big Bang” with all the subsequent attributes we currently attribute to that phenomenon.

There are many other theories proposed for the creation of the universe. One of these is based on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – which can be used to assert that even a pure vacuum contains a myriad of virtual particles that come into and out of existence -- with positive charges balancing negative charges, positive energy particles balancing negative energy particles, etc. Occasionally, over an infinity of time and space, some of these particles will appear with near infinite energy, thus creating universes such as the one we inhabit. (Somewhere another universe exists which is a “negative” of our universe, the exact “reflection” of our own.) There are other theories, such as those based on the fairly recent “string theory” as a starting point.

The message I wish to convey is that the farther back we penetrate into the origin of space and time, the more we understand how limited our knowledge really is, and how we merely move the frontier of our understanding farther and farther back as if we are receding into an infinity of mirrors in which we will never catch up to our own image.

I realize that this may seem a bit confusing – because it simply isn’t clear to anyone – including Einstein. Place your faith in God, and take time to marvel at the intricacies of his handiwork, as we slowly understand them with the growth in our scientific knowledge.

Dr. Ted Mock is a distinguished scientist and educator who holds graduate degrees in engineering, chemistry, international affairs, business administration, and a Doctorate in nuclear science. He also has a J.D. and L.L. M in intellectual property law. Dr. Mock has served as a professor of mathematics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the George Washington University and the University of Virginia, and a Visiting Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has also contributed as a Senior Science Advisor to the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

(Photos by Alidarbac (top) and Feuillu. See flickr.com for restrictions.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sonrise Meeting Next Week!

Great discussion Tuesday on an incredibly revealing verse in Hebrews. You had some stellar insights. At JH's suggestion, this week we tackle James 1: 1-8.

1. First pray that God will lead you in your study.

2. Then read the Bible text without consulting notes or study aids.

3. Determine who is speaking to whom and why (OK to use commentaries here).

4. Then begin asking questions. Focus on any aspect of these verses that you'd like to personally explore. You might want to do a "key word" study on one of the words, e.g., "endurance" or "trials." Or, you might want to close your eyes and visualize the experience of being "tossed by the wind" using the imagery of vs. 6. Or, you might ask why it is that we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (vs. 7). Or, you might think of example of someone you know (or, ahem, even yourself) who has at one time or another been "double-minded" (vs. 8). So, lots of freedom here... lock on to whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to focus on and study it a bit... pray about it... ponder it.

Then at the end... let's wrap ourselves around a bit of application and consider what type of attitudes people exhibit when they are in the midst of trials/temptation/suffering... and let's see where our discussion goes from there!

See you next week!



On my iPod... Land of Confusion by Genesis.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sonrise Meeting: 8:15-9:15 Tomorrow!

Welcome to new Sonrise Bible Study friends! We're so happy to have you join us! As you "regulars" know, we had so much fun learning about "How To Study the Bible" in the Spring, we are doing it all over again! (My favorite comment: "Can I have a cold cloth for my head?") We moved along at a pretty aggressive pace the first time around. This time, we'll be revisiting the highlights of what we learned and rolling up our sleeves to begin working more closely with the text. So this is a great time to jump in!

Below are tomorrow's notes:

Discovery Steps:

1. Observe: What does it say?
2. Interpret: What does it mean?
3. Apply: What do I/you/we do with this?

The Approach:

1. Pray: It’s a “team” effort.
2. Start with Bible.
3. Ask questions.
4. Consult references (e.g., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, Mounce’s Dictionary of OT/NT terms, Internet sites (trusted, please!).
5. Begin answering questions.

Cover Many Bases: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, So What? (Professor Howard Hendrix/Dallas Theological Seminary)

E.g., Mark 4: 35-41

Who: Textual Context: Verse 34 explains “them” in verse 35. Jesus is talking to His disciples.

What: A summary in your own words. They (Jesus & disciples) are leaving a large crowd and preparing to cross a lake when a violent storm hits. The disciples awaken Jesus, who was sleeping, and accuse Him of not caring about their welfare. Jesus uses three words to calm the storm then questions the faith of His students. The disciples are terrified and astounded.

When: Verse 35 tells us it is evening. Can you imagine the amplified terror of this scene in darkness?

Where: We go back to the beginning of the chapter (4:1) to learn that the crowd was so large, Jesus took a boat out onto the lake to make room for more people on land. The disciples have joined Jesus in boats. They are preparing to go from one side of the lake to the other. What lake? See 2:1. Geographical context: Capernaum/Sea of Galilee, a location known for especially violent squalls when cool mountain air meets shallow, semi-tropical waters (The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands).

Key Words: Two other Gospel accounts: (Matthew 8:22-27, Luke 8: 21-25). “Very much afraid” versus “amazed” (Mt.)?

Why: Why is this story important? What can we deduce? Is this a story about boating? Or storm preparedness? Or is it more likely a message about faith?

So what (Application): What’s the take-away? What are we to learn in 2008 from God's revelation? Are there furious storms in your life? How do you respond? Do you worry? Are you anxious? Or are you stepping out and abiding by faith?

Next Time: Read, analyze and interpret Hebrews 2:18. Who is this about? Any key words? What is the context? Is there application value for us today?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A View on Empathy

empathy (noun): 1. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. The American Heritage Dictionary

What are the descriptors we typically use to describe God? We might say He is holy... awesome... loving... gracious... merciful... just... compassionate... pure. The list could go on, of course. In my reading of Hebrews this week, another word came to mind. God is empathetic.

For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Hebrews 2:18 (Net Bible)

"He," of course, refers to the incarnate Jesus Christ, who resisted the temptations of Satan, most vividly described for us in the wilderness account (Luke 4). Though Jesus never had the experience of committing personal sin, He had direct exposure as a man to the demonic tugs and whispering that can lead to sin. Thus, Jesus acquired empathy.

As we are called in the Christian walk to model our hearts and actions after Jesus Christ, and we pray and think about what it means to be more holy and loving and merciful and just, etc., I believe we are likewise called to be more empathetic.

How does an ordinary man or woman acquire empathy? From experience. What kinds of experience? All kinds of experience. Even our sins.

I know a lot of Christians who are haunted by "guilt ghosts." Ashamed of past missteps and misdeeds and unable to move forward with confidence and agility. Satan loves and perhaps carefully works at crafting this mental rut. Because guilty Christians have less impact for God. The shame holds them back like a car downshifted into low gear.

When Christ sacrificed His body for our sins, He paid the price in full for every, single one of your sins. What you have thought and done in the past... what you are thinking and doing right now... and what you will think and do in the future. Your sins are forgiven. (Hebrews 10: 10-18)

Still, God loves a contrite heart. So, we are to confess our sins to God in prayer as we abide in a deepening and maturing relationship with Him. (1 John 1:1-10) This is not for His edification; He knew what you were going to do before you even thought about it. But He cares about your spiritual walk and wants you to have a growing awareness of what constitutes Christ-like thoughts and behaviors.

But back to this word "empathy..." I would challenge you today to reflect upon your own personal sufferings... those beyond your control and those that have stemmed from sin. What valuable lesson have you learned. And who can be helped by your experience?

Question: Who can you empathize with? Who, then, can you serve?