Reading — August 2009

My friend Glenn has advice on Disciplined Reading. Check out his 75 books that have powerfully influenced him.


Here are the books I’ve been working on in August:

  • Beyond Creation Science — by Timothy Martin and Jeffery Vaughn. A good Biblical analysis of young-Earth creationism mixed with a “Jesus has already returned” eschatology (full preterism).
  • The History of the Ancient World — by Susan Wise Bauer. I’ve been in this book all summer, and am up to the Assyrian conquest of Egypt.
  • Dune — science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. The book is interesting for its perspectives on ecology as well as its plot and imagination. “You cannot go on forever stealing what you need without regard to those who come after.” (Kynes having a delusion of his father lecturing him as Kynes is dying in the desert)
  • The Apocrypha — Though not considered to be Scripture by Protestants, these Jewish writings fill in the historical gap between Old and New Testaments. These books were included in Luther’s German Bible and in the 1611 King James Version. This month, I read the additions to the Biblical book of Daniel, which are valuable stories even if they are not part of Scripture:
    • The Song of the Three — Contains the supposed prayer of Abednego in the furnace, as well as a psalm of praise sung by the three when they were delivered.
    • Susanna — Daniel’s wisdom rescues a “very beautiful and devout woman” named Susanna from her lustful, false accusers. This story is chapter 13 of Daniel in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.
    • Bel and the Dragon — Daniel shows the king that it is the priests of the Babylonian god Bel, not Bel himself, who dine on offerings placed before Bel’s idol. This story is added as chapter 14 of Daniel.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There is an edition of The English Standard Version (ESV) with Apocrypha. In this edition, the Apocrypha is after Revelation, rather than between the two Testaments where it is usually inserted. I have never seen a New International Version  (NIV) Bible with the Apocrypha. I’ve been reading the New English Bible with Apocrypha, which I picked up at a book fair for really cheap.

Updates: job search, upcoming posts

There is nothing new on the job search. I am seeking employment as either a geoscience or geospatial professional (or both combined in one position).

As I told one of my daughters a few months ago: “I’ve found plenty of jobs; they just haven’t found me.”

Click here for a brief resume, or go to Ten reasons why you should hire me.


I’m just about done with my final post in my “Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis” series. My next series is going to be “The three pillars of young-Earth creationism,” where I’ll take a look at problems with the three basic YEC Biblical arguments for the Earth being only 6000 years old:

  1. Genesis 1 requires six, consecutive, literal 24-hour days.
  2. Genesis 3 requires no animal death before the fall.
  3. Genesis 6-9 requires a global flood that produced the Earth’s sedimentary rock record.

I hope to demonstrate that each of these pillars rests on a questionable foundation based on what the Bible actually says, rather than what the young-Earthers read into it. The science against young-Earth creationism is a slam-dunk, but I’ll stick mostly (or entirely) to Biblical arguments for this series.

Grace and Peace

APOD: Morning glory clouds

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Morning Glory Clouds Over Australia.

morninggloryclouds_petroff
Credit & License: Mick Petroff

The text description from APOD:

Explanation: What causes these long, strange clouds? No one is sure. A rare type of cloud known as a Morning Glory cloud can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes up to two kilometers high. Although similar roll clouds have been seen at specific places across the world, the ones over Burketown, Queensland Australia occur predictably every spring. Long, horizontal, circulating tubes of air might form when flowing, moist, cooling air encounters an inversion layer, an atmospheric layer where air temperature atypically increases with height. These tubes and surrounding air could cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear. Morning Glory clouds can reportedly achieve an airspeed of 60 kilometers per hour over a surface with little discernible wind. Pictured above, photographer Mick Petroff photographed some Morning Glory clouds from his airplane near the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.

Grace and Peace

The Reason for God — $8.99

ReasonForGodI saw The Reason for God by Timothy Keller at Costco for only $8.99. Or you can get it for $10.88 on Amazon. You decide.

As I have said before, I recommend this book for

  1. Skeptics — If you reject Christianity because what you have read from the New Atheists, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
  2. Doubters — If you are struggling in your faith because of intellectual doubts, this might be the book for you.
  3. Mature Christians — If you want to be more effective in your discussions with skeptics and doubters, this book can add some apologetics tools to your toolbox.

Grace and Peace

Religious belief among scientists

Here are some results of a PEW Research Center study on the religious and political beliefs of scientists:

Statistic #1
42% — Scientists ages 18-34 who say they believe in God.
28% — Scientists 65 and older who say this.

What does this mean? Does it mean that an increasing number of scientists believe in God? Or does it mean that young scientists give up their faith as they grow older? Unfortunately, this study is just a snapshot in time. It would be helpful to see the results of similar surveys done over time, or the results of studies that follow the same scientists throughout their careers.

Statistic #2
3% — Percentage of scientists who are “white evangelicals”.
19% — Percentage of Americans who are “white evangelicals”.

What does this mean? Either we evangelicals are doing a pitiful job of preparing and motivating our young people to enter the sciences, or they fall away from faith once they do enter the sciences. I place part of the blame for both of these possibilities on the dominance of young-Earth creationism in our Christian educational system, whether in our private schools, home schools, or churches. Students are either scared away from the sciences because of the perceived warfare between science and faith, or they are ill-equipped to see God’s world as it is, especially in terms of Earth history. There are likely to be a number of other factors as well.

Statistic #3
Field Believe in God
Believe in higher power
Believe in neither
Biology and medicine 32 19 41
Chemistry 41 14 39
Geosciences 30 20 47
Physics and astronomy 29 14 46

There is not as much of a difference between the different fields of science as I had been led to believe by some other studies. I had thought that astronomers were more likely to believe in God or some sort of a higher power than other scientists, but according to this study this isn’t the case.

In the geosciences, 47% of scientists are in the “believe in neither” category: atheists and agnostics. But at 30%, we theists are not all that far behind, and I find this encouraging.

One more item from the study that I found interesting, though it related to politics rather than religious beliefs:

Statistic #4 — Party affiliation among scientists

Republican
Democrat
Independent
All scientists 6 55 32

Some questions:

  • Is there a trend towards increasing faith among scientists, as indicated by statistic #1, or will these young scientists lose faith as they grow older?
  • Why are only 3% of scientists evangelical Christians? What can we evangelicals do about it?
  • Is there any significance to the differences between the various fields of science? Are chemists most likely to believe in God because their science doesn’t have as direct of a relationship to the issue of origins?
  • Why do only 6% of scientists identify themselves as Republican? What can be done about it?

HT: Christianity Today

Grace and Peace

Updates: job search, unemployment activities, comments (Is God a malevolent bioterrorist?)

I’m still plugging away on the job search. I know that I am competing against 50 to 100 people (or more) for many of the positions I have applied for. My lovely wife tells me that I should feel pretty good about being a finalist for a number of these positions. Yes, but I’d sure rather be employed than just feeling good about myself at this point.

I still have a tentative offer for an excellent position, but it may not start until 2010, and I can’t wait that long (and they know that). If I can find good temporary work, this might still work out. Until it is a done deal, however, I’m still looking for a permanent position.

Click here for a brief resume, or go to Ten reasons why you should hire me.


What does one do in a long period of unemployment, other than networking and working on applications?

  • I’ve been taking GIS classes from ESRI to expand and update my skills. The course I’m working on now is “Creating and Integrating Data for Natural Resource Applications.” I also took a course on the geochemistry of gas shales this summer.
  • Long walks in the mountains and foothills. I saw my first western tanager last week—a very pretty bird.
  • Lunch dates with my wife.
  • Reading books.
  • Going to the apartment complex swimming pool with the family.
  • We’re going to a Colorado Rockies baseball game this week. My wife found some seats for $1 each!
  • Writing blog posts on The GeoChristian helps to keep me sane.

The greatest number of comments in the past week have been on my “Seeing God in nature” post. What is the difference between ID and the theistic evolution of Francis Collins? Is God a malevolent bioterrorist?

Grace and Peace