February 28, 2005

Look! New Look!

That hideous, green thing that was the old style was really starting to bug me. Not too many minutes spent working on the CSS fixed that.

I copy-pasted the old CSS into a new stylesheet, and added another link element with rel="alternate stylesheet", so I could look at the result in FireFox without messing with the "live" look-and-feel.

I also used "display:none" to hide the calendar div. Now you can no longer see at-a-glance what a lame blogger I am.


February 23, 2005

Only in Key West

I sure miss Key West!


February 20, 2005

The evolution will be blogged.

Friday night, Jen and I had a really long phone conversation with a good friend on the topic of evolution. Our friend, like us, comes from a Christian and creationist background, and he seemed most concerned about the impact of evolution on his faith. I promised to try blogging something about that, and this (for better or worse) is what you get:

I suppose the first thing that I would want to say is that, yes, there are huge theological ramifications for evolution. I'm not a theologian, so if you want an educated enumeration of the issues, you'll either need to read a book, or talk to Jen. My current favorite book on the subject is by the theologian, John Haught, called Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution (yours for about $10 at Amazon). In Responses, Haught lists six reasons why Darwinian evolution is shocking to religious people:

"Because (1) it offers a whole new story of creation, one that seems to conflict with the biblical accounts; (2) Darwin's notion of natural selection appears to diminish, if not eliminate, the role of God in creating the diverse forms of life; (3) Darwin's theory of human descent from "lower" forms of life appears to question age-old beliefs in human uniqueness and ethical distinctiveness; (4) his emphasis on the prominent role of chance in evolution seems to destroy the notion of divine providence; (5) Darwinian evolution seems to rob the universe of purpose, and human life of any permanent significance; (6) and, at least for many Christians, Darwin's account of human origins seems to conflict with the notion of original sin, of the "Fall," and therefore remove any need for a savior." (p. 5)

Haught's Responses goes on to address these concerns, quite elegantly, I think, and in an easy-to-read format. He also deals with the theology of evolution in his book God After Darwin, but that one required more mental heavy lifting than I'm capable of, and he lost me in the first chapter.

It is important to point out that I don't believe that evolution implies atheism! In another excellent book on the subject, Finding Darwin's God, Kenneth Miller points out that creationists have "taken the bait" in accepting this conclusion. There ARE outspoken evolutionists who also advocate atheism, and I'm sure they're delighted that Christians have painted themselves into a corner on this point.

There are other concerns that are important to acknowledge besides theology. One is ME-ology. Never mind what evolution says about God, what does it say about ME? Am I unimportant? Is there meaning to life beyond propagating my DNA? Some may think those are selfish questions, but I don't.

Tradition and belonging are big concerns too. You're not likely to embrace evolution if your family and friends will call you crazy and accuse you of forsaking holy scripture and embracing atheism. Evolution may look like the top of a slippery slope that ends at the bottom with you wearing Birkenstocks and dreads and calling yourself a, gulp, liberal!

For someone starting from a six-day creationist world view, there will be concerns about the science too. It's tough to get satisfactory answers. The fact is, the science community moved on from the creation vs. evolution debate many, many years ago. Observations about dating techniques, geological layers, etc. aren't defended against young-earth theories, because those theories have already been laid to rest. This is not to say that scientists take a ho-hum, we've-got-this-figured-out attitude to their subject! On the contrary, I think that people familiar with the science are in a much better position to marvel at the intricate beauty of Life, and appreciate our blessings!

[Update: If you're interested in the science, the Talk.Origins Archive is a great place to get started. Thanks, Josh, for asking.]

So, being a Christian, and having been raised to believe in a six-day creation and a young earth, how did I become this raving evolutionist? Well, I wish that I could tell you that I had the personal integrity to embrace Truth at the very beginning, no matter where it took me. In reality, the transition took several years. I had ALL of the concerns about evolution that I've listed above and held them quite stubbornly. For long periods of time, I simply chose to ignore the issue. I could write several long entries about events along the way.

What do I believe in now? I'm not given to instrospection, so this may not make any sense to you! I still believe in God, but certainly a God about whom I know much less (I don't think that's a bad thing though). And I must say that God looks bigger from here. Believing in God still requires faith -- more faith than evolution actually. (People talk about faith a lot, but I'm realizing that they often don't mean faith, but something else. That's a great topic for another day.) A really loud source of cognitive dissonance is gone, and I really groove on science like never before. When hobbit-sized hominid remains are discovered on an Indonesian island, I don't need to rapidly reshuffle a crumbling conspiracy theory. It's all good. Science is cool, and I wish I'd gone for a hard science degree when I first went to college! The fact that I didn't is a major regret.

What about you?


February 7, 2005

Move along, scientists! There's nothing to see here!

Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, an essential text for the Intelligent Design crowd, has an op-ed piece in the New York Times today.

In it, he attempts to clear up some misconceptions about Intelligent Design. In the process, he appears to expand the domain of ID from biology into geology by arguing that the distinctly presidential features of Mt. Rushmore may be the result of, yes, an Intelligent Designer.

Despite the progress of adding yet another irrelevant analogy to the debate, Behe's essay finishes flat. What is the conclusion of his argument? He concludes that scientists should stop looking for a "non-design explanation" to life. Never mind the uninterrupted stream of discoveries exposing naturalistic processes for things that were once considered beyond our comprehension. Never mind that there's no sign of a dead-end to new discoveries of this sort. Behe suggests we pack it up and go home. The work of science is finished. It's time to embrace the opinion of our uneducated public.


February 5, 2005

Wax On, Wax Off

I had the coolest experience this morning: I took Madeleine (6) to her Aikido lesson. Jen has been telling me about how great it is, and how much Madeleine likes it. Meanwhile, I was picturing in my head all those little strip mall karate places.

The Aikido Shobukan Dojo in Takoma Park doesn't fit that stereotype at all. First of all, you'll have a hard time finding it, because it looks like just another home tucked into a residential area. I thought it was somebody's house (and it may be). As we walked along the narrow, meticulously cared-for garden walk along the side of the house, I was picturing Madeleine taking lessons in someone's living room. It was no living room!

The interior of the place defies description; you'd have to have been there to understand any of the rest of this. It has a big, open floor with a beautiful shrine, worthy of some Neo vs. Morpheus sparring. The artwork and calligraphy on the walls is cool too. But the most compelling piece of art is a two-story tall, wooden sculpture that hangs from the ceiling and ends with a hook at the bottom that holds a kettle a half inch over the coals in a hibachi set in a massive chunk of wood that serves sort of as a coffee table. There were two big doors, the size of garage doors, across the room that apparently open onto a veranda and rock garden. There are some really nice photos on their website.

I was really impressed. I've always thought that Aikido is the classiest of the martial arts. The visit to the dojo, along with the down-to-earth goodness of the Takoma Parkers who practice there, made me want to enroll myself!

Posted 6:55 PM

Zogg, The Cuddly Menace

We have this book in our house! Note to self, sleep with one eye open from now on!


February 2, 2005

The Awkward Evangelical

Brian McLaren was on Larry King last night. The "evangelical" label just doesn't fit him. Not when the LaHayes wear it too.

I didn't see the show, but from the transcript, it sounds like Larry did a reasonable job of skewering the LaHayes.

Posted 1:27 PM

February 1, 2005

Metasyntactic Variable, What's That?

...but you say "foo" and I know what you're talking about!

Wikipedia is my new favorite destination.

Search and The Orange Button

Tim Bray said that the intelligence community is doing it. Now the new MSN Search is doing it. I'm taking wagers on how soon Google.com does it.

Posted 4:19 PM

Logos By The Numbers

Ian Landsman provides a nicely-illustrated, step-by-step description of how he and Mike Rohde developed his logos. Color selection is the last step; who knew?