Thursday, February 17, 2022

Of Making Many Books

Human writing skills have proliferated in the past several thousand years. The Book of Ecclesiastes, attributed to The Preacher, probably Solomon, makes a notable comment about book writing even in his day. The Preacher said, “And further, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Eccl. 12:12 KJV)

Recently our family has been focused on a move from one house to another. When it becomes necessary for a family to change their home location, they acquire multidimensional responsibilities, including how to deal with the accumulation of objects from the past. Disposal of books and other printed matter ranks high on the list of activities associated with relocating. We must put away sentiment and become focused on reorganizing and renewal, especially when we consider the fate of aging books. Most friends agree this activity generates some trauma, especially when a surprising number of acquaintances confess they have even retained their college textbooks! We may be shocked to find out how our human knowledge base has changed since we were college students. As we decide to cull and discard or give away personal books, we might also consider motivations and goals of the writers.  

Writing is a special human skill, invented surprisingly late in human history. One wonders why writing skills were not manifest much earlier on the human timeline. Historians have recognized the presence of “full humanity” for tens of thousands of years prior to the invention of writing. Our Science/Faith blog has used the term “full humanity” many times in past years. You may access many blog posts using the term “full humanity” by entering the term in the SEARCH THIS BLOG window.  

Sources credit the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia with developing early writing skills about 3500 BC, followed by Egypt in 3200 BC, then China about 1300 BC. Mesoamerican residents developed writing skills in the millennium before the advent of Jesus Christ. The term pre-history refers to the time in human history before writing skills appeared. Even after humans possessed writing skills, autographs (original copies) of the author’s written production are virtually never preserved. They exist as copies. Old Testament writings originated not long after human writing skills were invented. Original manuscripts do not exist even for New Testament authors.

Tools for writing developed in concert with writing skills. For example, early writing was produced with primitive writing tools. Early humans did not have access to plentiful paper, printing methods, and duplicating skills, but in our modern day numerous technological innovations have made the production of books and the distribution of information easy compared with the early days of antiquity. It is not difficult for modern authors to record and publish personal opinions and ideologies utilizing diverse writing styles. Our culture has been blessed with millions of books by tens of thousands of authors. We live in the age of information. The writing of many books is one of the most important means of spreading information. The type and quality of information is exceedingly diverse. We thank our Creator for enabling his children to develop and refine this gift of communication.

Why was writing invented so late in time? We could also ask why knowledge of the wheel, agricultural innovation, genetics, germ theory, animal and plant domestication, human nutrition, aviation, space travel, and electric powered automobiles were not prevalent earlier in human experience? We have listed only a few of blessings divinely bestowed on contemporary humanity.

Writing, specifically the writing of “many books,” is looked upon with various degrees of favor, indifference, or disfavor. Book writing is an effective way to convey truth. It is also a means of spreading misinformation and disinformation—popular terms in our day. We must filter out the useful from the non-useful as we decide which books to purchase, retain, or discard.           

Several scripture verses come to mind in relation to our query: why was writing not invented earlier in the timeline of history? Phrases such as those in 2 Cor. 6:2  and Gal. 4:4 speak of “the fullness of time” or “when the time had fully come." These verses primarily refer to the advent of Christ. Modern commentators advance beyond our knowledge of Christ and refer to medical breakthroughs, technological marvels, and increasing human achievement, including the relatively recent advancement in writing. In human history, God works according to HIS calendar.

The fulness of time expression may relate to the human population explosion since the invention of writing and other startling human advancement. Our God oversees the achievements of his created beings, especially those created In His Image. He has endowed humanity with diverse abilities which came to fruition in our day. Metrics for the population explosion since the invention of writing surprise us: In 3000 BC world population was about 14 million. In 2022 world population is 7.9 billion—more than 500 times the human population when writing was invented. Technological advancement now proceeds at a breakneck pace. This human advancement is enabled by Our Heavenly Father—The Creator of All Things. 




Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Universal Purpose

 A query to all residents of Planet Earth: Why are we here? Did God have a purpose for creating humanity? If we ask residents about the purpose for their existence, would most people link God’s purpose with human purpose?          

Many young people are exposed to catechisms as a vital segment of their early education in the Christian faith. These are manuals of religious instruction designed for young people and new converts. They are organized statements of Christian principles stated in the form of questions and answers. We remind readers of the first question from the famous Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We may substitute the term “purpose” for “end.”  

What is the purpose of humanity as residents of Planet Earth? The question has many dimensions. When we speak of purpose are we talking about pure enjoyment of life? participation in exciting experiences? knowledge gain? satisfaction with one’s choice of profession? altruism? productivity? power exercised over others? The subjective list expressing life’s purpose could expand almost endlessly. It is a formidable challenge to express our values and personal philosophy in defining humanity’s purpose.

The known universe consists of two entities—non-living and living. Non-living matter in our universe comprises almost 100% of the matter in our cosmos. From our early knowledge of chemistry, protons, neutrons and electrons comprise visible matter, but dark energy and dark matter are also part of the cosmic mix. Baryonic (visible) matter comprises only 5% of the “normal matter” in our universe. In contrast, 27% of the matter in our universe is categorized dark matter, while 68% of the matter in our universe is considered dark energy. Dark matter and dark energy are mysterious components of the universe. Therefore, “‘normal matter’ (visible matter) shouldn’t be considered normal matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe.” (quote from NASA Share the Science article.)

Behavior of matter is incredibly fine tuned. There are 26 “fundamental constants” which govern the behavior of all particles in the universe and all forces and interactions occurring between them. 

“Fine tuning refers to the surprising precision of nature’s fundamental physical constants and the beginning state  of the universe. Both of these features converge as potential pointers to a Creator. To explain the present state of the universe, scientific theories require that the physical constants of nature—like the strength of gravity—and the beginning state of the universe—like its density—have extremely precise values. The slightest variation from their actual values results in an early universe that never becomes capable of hosting life. For this reason, the universe seems finely tuned for life. This observation is referred to as the anthropic principle…..

“The fine tuning of the universe is seen most clearly in the values of the constants of nature. There are many such constants, the best known of which specify the strength of the four forces of nature: the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity. If these forces took on even slightly different strengths, the consequences for life would be devastating. Two of these  in particular, the strong and electromagnetic forces, are responsible for the unusually efficient production of carbon, the element upon which all known life is based…..The slightest change to either the strong or electromagnetic forces would alter the energy levels, resulting in greatly reduced production of carbon and an ultimately uninhabitable universe.” (Quotes from The BioLogos Forum article: “What is the ‘fine tuning’ of the universe, and how does it serve as a ‘pointer to God?’”)  

We speak of a carbon-less universe uninhabitable by humanity. A non-living universe would be fascinating even if it produced only beautiful stars, galaxies or complex weather and climate systems. Such systems would be remarkable in themselves, but far less remarkable if they lacked life. Our enormous universe has been prepared and fine-tuned by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, loving Creator of All Things. He produced this vast universe with divine care for the welfare of its living things, especially humanity.

Many scientists who do not embrace Christianity acknowledge, at some level, a universe having supernatural characteristics. For example, English astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) uttered this statement: “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggest that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Scientific knowledge concerning the overwhelming evidence of fine tuning in the universe fortifies our belief in the existence of God. He is the Creator of the Universe with all its beauty, coherence, and functionality. Observations of the universe itself clearly indicate that its fine tuning serves as a “pointer to God” whose deep, purposeful love for man is evident. Our loving Creator is worthy of all the glory we could offer Him.