Comment Archives: stories: Life + Outdoors: Field Notes

Re: “Cash, Plastic or Bitcoin?

Barry: Before you pronounce bitcoin as secure, you might want to Google "bitcoin theft."

Like any predator/prey interaction it's always a a pendulum swing. And one should consider what legal mechanisms are available to help the victim in case of loss.

Bronco

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Posted by Bronco on 05/09/2016 at 6:20 PM

Re: “A Little Lower Than the Angels?

"Charles Darwin showed how the relentless thrust of evolution further dilutes our previously self-glorified status."

"...according to some contemporary physicists who propose that even our universe isn't special! "Universe" used to be interpreted literally: "that which is combined into one." Now speculation runs rife with talk of "multiverses." Whatever process created our universe..."

Darwin did not know about the digital code of DNA in the 1800s and the multiverse is untestable. It's all part of our final exam. We can believe what we WANT to believe, and what we WANT to believe tells God who we are.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 05/09/2016 at 5:47 AM

Re: “Cash, Plastic or Bitcoin?

Succinct.

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Posted by Erik Aronesty on 05/05/2016 at 9:31 AM

Re: “General Relativity, 100 Years On

Just saw this myself... good questions all of them. Do you think they can be answered apart from our assumptions concerning the meaning and purpose of the universe and of life? How do we extricate ourselves and answer them objectively?

Posted by Robert Lockett on 04/16/2016 at 8:44 PM

Re: “Bayes, Mammograms and False Positives

On thing to add... given that there are credible historical grounds to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and that there are credible scientific grounds to believe that the universe came into being, each only once in this course of natural history, we can then use Bayes' theorem not as a proof, but as useful ground in terms of probability for believing -not that each will happen over and over, but that each can happen once more (a total of twice), ergo a collective resurrection and a new heaven and new earth. But it is important to notice that in the prophetic regime, the second nature is not like the present, but seems to be a more real nature, not lacking the added dimension/s and permanence of this nature. It almost gives the picture that this present nature is only the precursor to the real, the prototype, or the evolutionary ancestor of what (in one sense) is still being fashioned.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 04/16/2016 at 9:20 AM

Re: “Bayes, Mammograms and False Positives

Assigning probability to the existence of God or the miraculous is a category error as C.S. Lewis explained very well. If, for example we try to contemplate the probability of the resurrection, we will find that it falls into a different category like that of the history of the earth. The whole history of the earth is very improbable and by its nature it only happens once. Lewis masterfully shows that in the same way, the resurrection is one of those 'one-off' events that cannot be subject to the kind of probability that things within the ordinary cause and effect relationship of the total system reside.

We must not let our habits of thought blind us to the obvious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv4kx2QP4U…

Posted by Robert Lockett on 04/16/2016 at 7:57 AM

Re: “Gravity Waves: Confirming a Metaphor

Barry, I owe you a debt of gratitude for helping me focus my thoughts over the last year so that they can be made intelligible. You have motivated me to work harder, and smarter. That's what good teachers do whether they intend it or not. In your case, I wish not to judge which side of that equation you would fall. You are like a photon, a tomato seed, and resistant to being pinned.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/robert-lock…

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Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/16/2016 at 6:17 AM

Re: “Myth of the Invisible Ships

Excellent point! True, passive acts are normally ignored and not something "invisible" under the Webster's dictionary's definition, or are they? "Invisible" means: "(1a) incapable of nature of being seen." Any decent attorney could spin that definition towards their own argument with ease. Although that doesn't prove that the ships were invisible, it also doesn't prove that the ships were simply ignored, as you state. It may be helpful to re-examine your "prosaic" conclusion as the exact stance you attempted to refute. In all honesty though, keep up the good work Barry!

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Posted by Jeff_La on 03/15/2016 at 10:28 AM

Re: “Gravity Waves: Confirming a Metaphor

As I was editing tonight something struck me about these gravity waves.

Naturally, there are challenges when translating ancient Hebrew to English as in certain cases the Hebrew terms often carry deeper meaning than any particular corresponding English term allows.

I noticed that Genesis 1:2 may be describing space because it describes the earliest account of creation as 'formless and void". In this particular case, other translations render it, "formless and empty". I am cool with that, same difference, simple enough...

But then it says, "and the spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the deep". And because of those translating challenges others render it, "over the face of the waters". The difference is greater here, and if it were to turn out that the Hebrew terms imply depth, waves, and surface, then...

How did the Hebrews know that space time can have waves? Furthermore, and in the peculiar context of space time, 'surface' as well? If that were to turn out to be the case, then how could they know that 3000 years ago when we confirmed it just 6 months ago on Sept 14?

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/11/2016 at 10:20 PM

Re: “The Martellus Map

Correction: I should have said that Martellus was ONE of the first to use Ptolemy's latitudes and longitudes. (His 1491 map probably was the first to use Ptolemy's “second projection” with curved parallels and meridians.)

Posted by barryevans on 03/10/2016 at 7:35 PM

Re: “General Relativity, 100 Years On

"What are those questions please?"--just saw this, Rob. Off the top of my head:
Origin of universe
Mismatch between GR and QM
Failure to detect signs of ET life (Fermi paradox)
Role of consciousness
Why something, not nothing

Posted by barryevans on 03/10/2016 at 8:43 AM

Re: “General Relativity, 100 Years On

Fun to watch boys at Cambridge dress up and try and address those questions. There are some familiar faces in the audience...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WizINsNRlb…

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/06/2016 at 9:46 PM

Re: “Thinking Outside the Galaxy

What I find most interesting about Seti is that besides the signs you mention here, they also search for signals that alien civilizations might send in the same way we do. So they search for patterns that would not be natural. They search for an information rich signal such as a series of prime numbers.

What is fascinating about that is that if information rich signals equal reliable indication of intelligence, then what do we make of the information in the DNA molecule? Why is it that that does not warrant excitement?

I like this explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfRdpTk1ys…

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/05/2016 at 6:47 PM

Re: “Theory of Anything

These difficulties are glaring. I respect you Barry for acknowledging them head on.

I have been listening (again) to a talk by John Lennox (professor of mathematics at Oxford for those who do not know) and studying it very closely. In part 2 He makes a point that eluded me at first and still may. He makes mention of the fact that in the biblical narrative God creates by serially injecting information into the system (universe) which was initially created formless and void. "And God said... (fill in the blank).

Lennox notes something he considers very interesting. On the 7th Day God rests from his work in creation. "So what", we may ask?

Well, Lennox points out that it immediately tells him that we are not going to get the full story by studying what's going on at the moment. And he says that has enormous theological implications but I do not understand why.

It reminds me of what you said here: "This was Big News to cosmologists and physicists, who would love to understand how the conditions we now observe came about."

So far as I can tell, Lennox is trying to show the philosophical sophistication of Genesis, that it contains the understanding and distinctions that give absolute limitations to what CAN be known scientifically. But maybe you can help me, I think Lennox is getting at more than that but I honestly do not perceive it.

Now I agree that the anthropic principle is not science. It tells us nothing about the mechanisms involved (the material causal chains) in the construction of this odd universe. My point is to remember that neither would any descriptor that essentially explains this in material terms.

So many of the questions we have are not scientific. And they can't be. And although I do not see the anthropic principle as science, I would disagree with you that it stops science and is defeating in any way. That is unless the point of science for many (perhaps yourself) is to find purely material explanations so as to under-gird a philosophy.

What I am saying is that the anthropic principle may be a defeater for a persons philosophy (a materialist for instance), but not science itself. But since when is the pursuit of science a search to affirm ones worldview? That would be begging the question, NOT science.

We both know the answer... since always. And that is what I find so fascinating at the juncture. Theists and design advocates are having a marvelous time because the pattern so screams of design at this point they have absolutely nothing to fear in terms of discovery. In fact, if the universe IS designed, and biological life is nothing more than insanely high tech machinery, then we can make predictions based on that to guide research; ie. that junk DNA is not junk at all. We can learn more by NOT assuming a 'natural' (what is going on at the moment) cause.

Link to Lennox Remarks. 26 total minutes: http://rzim.org/let-my-people-think-broadc…

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/05/2016 at 1:08 PM

Re: “The Unity of Life

I meant to say 10 centuries. In the future, I will try to slow down and proof read before posting.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/05/2016 at 6:21 AM

Re: “The Unity of Life

There is one more thing (until the next thing) that I need to clarify about alien life appearing as human in the biblical sense. And it needs to be clarified because a human life could easily be construed as not alien at all. We need to be sure this is not another anthropomorphic projection on our part (or part of the gospel writers).

We need to notice that according to the texts, God did not come from heaven in human form. so it is not as if something from this nature is coming from another nature. If that were the case, it would raise serious doubts in my mind. On the contrary something far more queer and astonishing takes place. God in spirit form, moves into our space time, overshadows a humble and willing woman, and incarnates into our nature.

This is utterly fantastic conceptually. It is a very complex claim. If it were primitive, I would expect some significant inconsistencies if for no other reason, their utter lack of experience both philosophically and scientifically.

Why is it that I not only find no relevant contradiction, but find instead such a sophisticated and complete picture? That is not to say that every question I have has been answered. but the information that is given, from Genesis to Revelation is totally consistent. And even though I would like more, there is much more information given than I would expect from a primitive legend.

For instance, it is not as if the new testament writers invented the idea of God impregnating a virgin woman so as to give us our messiah. It was prophesied long before that 'the woman shall be with child'.

Also, it is consistent with the claims of John and Genesis that God created the universe and life, and that the word was the life. That is to say, the very mind or spirit of God is the author of the laws of physics, chemistry, and the genetic code. And he would have to be in order to pull something like this off.

Not that last point may be consistent, but I can't help but notice that it is also obvious and in that way convenient. But what is not convenient is that the writer/s of Genesis and the writers of the new testament could have colluded to get the story straight. They are separated by as much as 100 centuries.

Then there is the most astounding consistency of all. I lean heavily on the work of so many others for wrestling through these things and I don't always give credit (my posts are long enough in a format like this). But C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, helped me put these next pieces together.

God reveals himself all the time, we are just too deaf and blind to see and hear him. He is too obvious and omnipresent to notice. We forget him as we forget we are breathing air. It is taken for granted. But at no time in history did he reveal himself so clearly as when he entered space time and incarnated in human flesh. He translated himself into human terms, and what a queer human he is.

But Lewis' point was roughly this. Humanity from God's point of view is not a series of disconnected individuals. To him mankind is one organism like a tree root spread out in time. Every human being is part of every other human being past, present and future. I think we can all see that plainly enough.

It is man who is fallen. Not you, not me, or Adolf Hitler, but mankind. In order to bring man back up into union with the deity, it was our very organism as a whole that needed redemption. Just as one man sinned and brought all of mankind down with him, so one man did not sin, and took all of man back up with him. This is a huge topic but I hope I have successfully abreviated the point.

I cannot say that without context, and this is something that came up in the jail awhile back. Part of our lessen that night referred to passages in Genesis where a reference to Adam and Eve was made. That is a rather awkward subject for a modern mind, and understandably so. One of the inmates inquired about the nakedness and all. He wanted to know what it was all about. He wondered if it was a sexual thing of some kind.

I told him, no I don't think so and then tried to explain it as follows:

We have to understand that Adam and Eve were immortal. They had real life, the life of God. They were fully alive in a way we do not know. I told him that I am not sure it would be right to say they were like the resurrected Christ, but something like that.

When they sinned and fell for the temptation to be God (another huge topic) they died just as God said. Their very bodies changed. The death was visible in their flesh and on their skin. Not only was the inward change something they immediately moved to hide, but also the visible representation of what they had done. They were ashamed through and through just as we are at times.

Now it must be mentioned that this is my own personal take on the matter though I am sure it is not new. If I were well read enough I would likely find that this has been covered and seen long before. This is not official church teaching or anything like that because it cannot be known with that degree of certainty. We are trying to make sense of it all. What surprises me is that we can at all. We should not be able to do this if it were nonsense or imaginative legend.

I have mountains of unanswered questions about Eden and vegetarianism, the list goes on. But what answers have been provided thus far are of the kind that do not fit a convenient just-so kind of story. they are real answers, not philosophize it away kind of fluff, utterly beyond my understanding as I found when test driving other philosophies in my youth. I don't want to denigrate other religions by naming them.

You know, I cannot but notice the fascination with zombies today. We are enraptured by the idea of the walking dead, and I think it is to make ourselves feel more alive by contrast. But if this text is telling us the truth (and I believe it is), the WE are the zombies.

It is like Pinnochio in reverse. Adam was like a real boy who became a wooden boy by contrast. And as Jesus said, "I come to give life and life to the full... I have come to restore that which has been lost". And in the person of Jesus the wooden man became a real boy once again.

Nothing is required of us to fix ourselves and achieve this. We can't. He has accomplished it already. The only thing required of us is to believe it. And he gives us ample intellectual, scientific, and existential reasons. It is not as if there is a lack of evidence. It does not require blind faith. Quite the contrary. It requires reasonable faith, the kind of faith Jesus talked about.

The craziest part is this. And although it can be told it must be experienced individually. Jeus said, "I am the gate...".

He is not talking about a wooden door. He is not talking about a star gate to another galaxy. He is talking about a gate to beyond the singularity and directly to God himself. When a blind man sees for the first time in the sense Jesus meant, he sees what Emanuel Kant said we could never know. Jesus enables us to not just believe that there is a God or life elsewhere in the ether, but to experience Him in our own flesh.

"...then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/03/2016 at 11:27 PM

Re: “The Unity of Life

I've been waiting all day to get to your other comments. Work, picking up one of the kids from baseball practice, then a 12 step meeting. Finally...

Barry writes: "And if we do find extraterrestrial life, what will it look like? How will it reproduce? Will it be based, like ours, on carbon, or silicon, or ...? Are its basic molecules right- or left-handed? Are we sure we'll even recognize it as alive?

All this is moot if life is unique to Earth. But I'm pretty optimistic we'll find something out there. The question is, what?"

Those are some very intelligent and relevant questions. In particular, the understanding that we may not recognize it. People do not appreciate enough the notion that something truly alien might very well escape our notice since we have so many preconceptions and such bias. We kind of pack the jury by defining ahead of time what it is we are looking for. It is also curious that we we are looking for something to begin with. And not just 'something', but life other than our own. But by and large, the fact is we are.

I remember how my heart raced in anticipation when the character played by Jody Foster was finally going to meet that other life in the movie Contact. Many books and films have filled us with this hope and awe.The reason is so clear, we are looking for answers. We are looking for someone, not something, to shed light on so much mystery about existence. For we have learned that science is mute on these matters. Our deepest questions are not scientific. Science cannot answer our questions about origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

Once again, I cannot help but notice that the bible comes through, NOT with a primitive answer to this, but a superbly sophisticated answer by comparison to our modern narratives.

In the modern narrative, the life we seek is really nothing more than what would be the gods of ancient Babylon or Greece. Like us, they are creatures INSIDE this universe. I found it a let down, but fitting (in fact I laughed out loud in the theater) when Jody Foster finally met the aliens and they had no meaningful answers. They didn't even know who built the Star gate. It was a brutal anticlimax.

But how could they? Like the writers of the script, they were inside this world and have no answers. Answers that must necessarily come from an objective perspective outside. If there is any life out there that can 'shed light' (notice the metaphor) on our deepest hungers, that life would have to come from beyond our space time.

The idea of life in another galaxy, or another planet in our own Milky Way, that is, life like our own is so congenial to our preconceptions that it most certainly is the more primitive when compared to the idea of a life coming from the 'heavenly places' (notice also the fitting metaphor for that which is outside our space time).

To be truly alien, in the most sophisticated sense, and to have any possibility of objective answers, it would have to be "not of this world."

1 John 1:2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

John 1:9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 18:Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

What is being claimed here is staggering. All of our hunger for answers from outside the system all wrapped up in this life that came into history in our time and space. We were not expecting the life to be human. Just what do we expect from such a life? But if man was made in the image of God perhaps some of the answers to our questions have been in front of our noses this whole time and we were simply blinded by our preconceptions.

There is one more thing to be said about Kant (I know you will understand Barry because of past comments of mine at LoCo). Kant really closed the philosophical deal in articulating the idea that we cannot know. We are stuck in this phenomenal world, and God in the noumenal. He had a point as we have no way to cross from here to there. But Kant failed to notice that if someone could come from there to here, then light could be shed, at least in theory. He gave us a half truth.

If nothing else, this is another example of what I touched on in my response in your article about Atlantis. Now that I grasp some of what the bible is communicating in terms of philosophy, theology, and the natural order, I see immediately that it is not primitive or superstitious like the nature religions. It is way ahead of its time even now in the 21st century, let alone for the times in which it was penned.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/02/2016 at 10:15 PM

Re: “Atlantis: The Lost Land

I know, I know, but I feel as if I have done a disservice by not giving an example to support the claim in may last post that the bible packs enormous information into minimal structure. I want to give 1 example by looking at the first 5 verses of Genesis.

Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The first thing it tells us is something that is consistently supported throughout the bible with many passages we need not mention, not the least of which is the first chapter of John's Gospel. John really unpacks this and interprets it in a way understood in his day with the academic philosophical language of the Greeks. It is telling us that God created the universe. That seems obvious enough, but it has a wealth of philosophical and theological implications. It means that God is not part of the system we call nature or the universe, and also that our universe had a beginning. The latter is something hotly debated up until this last century. We now have consistent scientific observations to support that last claim. It also tells us that God transcends space and time, and is consistent with other biblical passages that assert His eternal nature.

It is telling us that the nature of ultimate reality is the exact opposite of a blind unguided material process. That the ultimate reality behind the singularity is alive, powerful, conscious, free, and moral.


I always took verse 1 to be a general statement followed later by the details, but I now think that it is telling us about the initial stage of creation, because verse 2 indicates that it exists for some period of time without form and empty (some translations render it 'void'). Darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

As hard as it is for some of us to not lump the bible in with all the other nonsensical primitive superstitions in our tendency to profile and stereotype because of our prejudices, try to picture this. Does that not resemble what some theorize as a quantum vacuum?

Clearly if we are to take it seriously, there are no waters (in the h20 sense) in a formless void. if this is to be taken literally then we must take waters to be metaphor, and that this is literally a primeval universe without order or structure. Waters is a fitting metaphor because it creates a visual of chaos and undefined undulation, hence the formlessness and darkness. It is unintelligible and therefore dark. How does one see, that which is formless?

And in verse 3 God said, "let there be light".

This is very striking because it is made clear later that that sun and moon as well as the stars ('lights') are not made until day 4. So gain, if this is to be taken literally (as it must) then God is not talking about the visible electromagnetic spectrum at all. Rather it is literally talking about order and intelligibility. It is talking about the observer giving this quantum vacuum definition.

Now I will stop here to acknowledge that I could be reading all of this into it. I am not saying that this is the 'right' way to interpret these passages. I don't want to put that kind of restraint on such a sophisticated text. But I am saying that I do believe I am interpreting it correctly, and that it is telling us at LEAST this, but other things as well. What fascinates me is this: how can a very ancient primitive text (if it really is such) far older than Greece, accommodate a 21st century scientific theoretical framework.

It is interesting to note that God called the light day, and the darkness HE called night. That is to say, he (not you or I) defines the difference with his own sense of mind and intelligibility. Later, Jesus makes a comment to his disciples that is very interesting and helps us here.

John 9:As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

Jesus is eluding to the confusion the disciples will face when he is crucified. He is defining day and night as understanding and confusion. And that is a primary reason I think it supremely reasonable to interpret Genesis 1:5. And it also would also verify our consideration of what to make of the formlessness and darkness and interpret it for us.

So there you have one example of the depth that can be seen in the text if we can only assure ourselves that we are not transferring our own perception onto the text. Fortunately for us, the bible interprets itself. So if we take it as a whole we have an objective reference by which to test our own musings.

Even with just this one example, I can speak for myself and say that although I must ultimately by faith in the patterns I detect (like anyone else no matter their philosophy) I find it harder to believe that it is not supernatural, than to believe that it is. It astounds me...

For any of you wrestling with those nagging doubts about the 6 day creation, do you not remember what we have already covered? If the sun was not made until day 4, and a day is measured by the sun, then who can we take it literally to be a 24 hour day?

A day is a metaphor for order vs disorder. The days (whatever else can be gleaned from them), are increasing states of order relative to the day before, or the original primordial universe. The important thing to remember in philosophical terms is that the cause of those increasing states of order (the singularities) is the exact opposite of a blind unguided naturalistic process.

just as materialists assert and assume a natural process to be the first cause of the universe, the Hebrews assert and assume that God's will, observation, and command is the first cause. Please do try to recognize the equality in the playing field.

Barry, I know you have a love/hate relationship with cliches and metaphor. So, never throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because most philosophies are unscientific, primitive, and at bottom sometimes downright nonsense, does not mean they all are. You'd best be careful not to condemn you own in the process.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/01/2016 at 10:28 PM

Re: “Atlantis: The Lost Land

I would be cautious about lumping Hebrew theology in with that of the Greeks. There is not a hint of the primitive superstition of 'the gods' in the bible. In fact, the Hebrews utterly disbelieved in 'the gods' of the nations around them, both before and after Greece had risen and fallen. Not only was the idea of 'the gods' mocked, but it was forbidden. Naturally they fell prey from time to time, but they were excoriated in a manner that puts modern disdain for primitive superstition to shame. To worship the gods was not just foolish, it was idolatry.

It is striking actually, that a modern skeptic like yourself holds not a candle to the disdain held for such foolishness during the most lucid periods of Hebrew history.

The Greek gods were deifications of the forces of nature. They were creatures inside the system. As John Lennox reminds us, the Greeks had to get rid of their gods to do science but the Hebrews didn't. The Hebrews believed in a God who CREATED the universe and did not confuse God with the universe itself.

The Hebrew God is a very sophisticated philosophical position, it is not primitive. The fascinating thing about the bible is that it is not written in modern academic philosophic language that goes back to the Greeks. The way in which it is written conveys far more than merely philosophy but the philosophy it implies has a logical purity found no where else. It packs an enormous amount of useful information into minimal structure. It is extraordinary and utterly unique.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/01/2016 at 9:09 PM

Re: “Disruption (Personal Edition)

Ever consider another philosophy? Maybe the old one is getting worn.

Posted by Robert Lockett on 03/01/2016 at 8:40 PM

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