What Is A Trichoplax?

A Trichoplax is one of the simplest organisms you can find. It has no discernible organs or structure, and is basically a flat blob of tissue that moves around. Is it alive? I don't know. But I thought I'd ruminate on other conundrums in this space.

I Agree

Are You Looking For Dr. Manhattan, or Jesus?

If you type "Dr Manhattan vs Jesus" into Google, guess what the first result is... yes, it happens to be my post from weeks ago contrasting the cold caricature of God that is Dr. Manhattan to Jesus. If you look at the screenshot I've included, you'll see that all sorts of queries have led people to that post. In fact, 55 people have visited my blog by searching for some variation on Dr. Manhattan.

Of course, the vast majority of those people "bounce" (leave the page immediately) so I can only guess that they didn't find what they wanted. If you look at the results from the aforementioned Google search, you'll see that most of them involve fantasy match-ups between Dr. Manhattan and Jesus, as well as Thor, Osama bin Laden, Dark Phoenix, Darkseid, and Uber Cable, among others.

While it's true that most of these Googlers didn't bother to stick around and read what I had to say, at least 20-30% at least found it interesting enough to take a gander. As such, I'm curious... To these people I ask, what were you really looking for? Where you, in fact, looking for an epic cage match of godly proportions? Where you looking for the compare and contrast exercise I wrote? Or something else entirely? Sound off in the comments.

Does This Opinion Matter?

While I wouldn't say I'm an evolutionist (at least in terms of abiogenesis), I do believe that the process of evolution occurs in nature. I can honestly say that I'm not well informed on how macroevolution occurs (as opposed to microevolution, which isn't a hard thing to grasp) and have a hard time with some ideas behind that. But I'm willing to investigate and see what scientists have to say about it, without feeling my faith is threatened.

That is to say, I'm not a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). I believe that Genesis allows for an interpretation that agrees with science on the age of the earth and the universe (really, really, old) and I'm prepared to discuss that intelligently with you. Further, I believe it disingenuous to be a YEC once you've investigated the alternatives (which are reasonable and not faith-threatening as I've mentioned before). Unfortunately, a lot of YEC proponents aren't exactly the shining representations of Christian faith they would hold themselves to believe.

This is, sadly, pointed out by an avowed atheist in this post here. He's actually fair in his assessment of Christianity and the YEC position, in my opinion. Many YEC will be so wrapped up in their interpretations of Genesis, that even Christians with differing opinions have been branded heretics and the discussion about the matter devolves into heated rhetoric, all the while shaming the Gospel of Christ.

This leads to another group of people, those who don't care. These Christians are just tired of the fighting, and don't really think it matters at all to their relationship with God. I occasionally enter this camp, but I can't put myself wholeheartedly with these folks. I'm sure we'll end up seeing young-earthers, old-earthers, theistic-evolutionists, and all sorts of people in heaven; this belief won't be the deciding factor in God's judgement. On this, I'm very sure. On the other hand, I think its important to be informed on a subject that can come up fairly frequently when talking to other Christians and those outside of the church. I won't pick a fight, but when I'm asked what I believe the Bible says on the matter, I know what I'm going to say.

So what about you? Think the whole creation vs. evolution/young-earth vs. old-earth debate is a bunch of shouting in the wind? Or am I a heretic for saying evolution occurs in nature?

At Least He's Honest

If you want a good laugh, take a look at this screenshot of someone talking to a scammer on Skype. Once confronted with his scam, the scoundrel 'fesses up rather quickly...

World's Cheapest Car

So... it's cheap in all manner of speaking. It's made in India, costs less than $2,000, has a top speed of 43 mph, and has no air conditioning, airbags, radio, or power steering. They didn't use welding to keep the various sheet-metal and plastic body parts together, they used "plastic and adhesives" which probably means bubble gum and spit. Good luck getting one of these to pass safety inspections in America.

AIG and The Bailout Explained

Just finished reading a thorough, obscenity-laced, and thoroughly entertaining (if also very disheartening) article chronicling how AIG has plunged our economy into a sinkhole, and how our Treasury Dept. and the Fed were complicit in it all. If you read this and aren't angry after you finish, check your pulse. A sample:

"The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 millionevery hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses)."

It is 8 pages long, so if you can't stand to read it all you can get a synopsis of it here. But it's worth an evening read sometime.


Homelessness has always been a mystery to me and I've been curious about the motives (if there are any) behind the lifestyle. At first blush, homelessness seems to be something people choose. How could it not be when there are so many programs and opportunities to leave the lifestyle? As this article points out, though, things are not as simple as that.

The gist of it is that the homeless lifestyle is dangerous and hard, and shelters don't alleviate much of that. More importantly, the article points out that homelessness is not as much of a choice as we (yes, I'm included in that) make it out to be. Whether it's mental illnesses, difficult family situations, alcohol or substance abuse, the people out on the street are a suffering lot. Often, it seems, homeless people "choose" their lot, only in the sense that they chose a way out of a difficult situation into a different difficult situation.

I think that, too often, we make assumptions about a person's situation. I was reminded of this when reading through a humorous list (beware, strong language in that link) of ways our "common sense" lies to us. The linked website talks about numerous fallacies, such as the "Nirvana Fallacy", or "Special Pleading". The Nirvana Fallacy is defined as when you "dismiss anything in the real world because you compare it to an unrealistic, perfect alternative, by which it pales in comparison", for example: "You gave that homeless guy a sandwich? Ha! Like that's really going to fix poverty!" Special Pleading is simply when we "allow something to be an exception to a rule, for no logical reason," for example: "I know I was a heroin addict, but this is different. It's meth." If you read through the explanations you'll realize that the "Nirvana Fallacy" is really cynicism and laziness, and "Special Pleading" is really hypocrisy, or sometimes lack of empathy. And in the end, "common sense" is really human nature.

All that to say, reading about why homeless people remain homeless people reminded me that all too often I don't try to put myself in other people's shoes. Too often I don't give people the benefit of a doubt that I would like to be given to me. Maybe that rude cashier might simply be irritable because she's going through a rough divorce with an abusive husband. Maybe that guy who just cut me off on I-24 is late for an interview and needs to feed his family. I'm not saying that justifies any bad behavior, and I'm not forgetting the fact that some people really are mean or rude for no good reason. But is it a bad thing to have an extra measure of grace for people?

Of course, Jesus knew all of this when he said, "in the same way you judge others, you will be judged," and "Do to others as you would have them do to you." He lived this too. He drew in the dirt, waiting for the first man who deemed himself righteous enough to cast judgement on the adulteress by condemning her to a stoning. He looks on us with those eyes of mercy, and perhaps we will look on others the same.

The End Is Nigh

Could this be conclusive proof that our society is near it's end? Who thought the "Uroclub" was a good idea? Disturbing...

The Mother of All Funk Chords

It's very interesting to see how the internet is disrupting all other forms of media. In many many different ways it's changing how we listen to music, watch movies, even read and write.

As an example of this phenomenon, take a look at http://thru-you.com. An Isreali musician has done an incredibly good job of creating original music entirely from mashed together clips from Youtube. And it sounds really good. You really do have to see this one to believe it folks, hit the link or watch the video below...


I hate cell phone companies with a passion (most large companies receive my ire), and this post breaking down prices between the big three carriers helps me see why.

Megan and I went through our phone records to figure out if it would be cheaper for us to be on a family plan a few weeks ago. We found that it actually cost more money and gave us less minutes than if we paid for the individual accounts. It's a little bit of deceptive marketing that really gets under my skin.

Dr. Manhattan vs. God

I saw the new Watchmen movie the other day and enjoyed it, at least in terms of the oodles of technical showmanship the movie has (though if a glowing, computer-generated penis, or a meat cleaver embedded in someone's skull turns you off, stay away). I was particularly struck by the presentation of one character, Dr. Manhattan.

In the film Dr. Manhattan is the stage name of Jon Osterman, a man who is subjected to a horrible accident that imbues him with god-like powers. He is able to see and manipulate reality at a atomic level, can see into the future, teleport himself or others at a thought to anywhere in the universe, and so on. Because of his quasi-omnipotent/omnipresent/omniscient qualities, Dr. Manhattan slowly but surely begins to loose touch with the human race, and even with his own essential humanity. At one point, when confronted with the death of a former friend, Dr. Manhattan calmly states that, "A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?" At the climax of the film, one character is practically begging Dr. Manhattan to use his considerable powers to control a crisis, but Dr. Manhattan is not at all convinced that humanity matters. Dr. Manhattan walks around naked most of the movie as an example of how he's lost touch with human sensibilities. He simply doesn't care.

With this picture of a man-turned-god on my mind, I was reading through the Gospels the night after I'd seen the movies. In the passages I was reading, Jesus was healing the crowds and teaching his disciples in his early ministry. I read in John, when at the very beginning of his ministry Jesus overturns tables in his anger and zeal at what man had done to keep other men from worshiping God. I read that Jesus expresses exasperation when his disciples cannot understand the meaning behind a simple story about a farmer and his seeds. He is compassionate when clothing the newly freed demoniac, loving the unlovable. He touches the leper, the first human contact that man would have felt since being declared "unclean". He wades in our filth and mire, sees the condition we are in, and embraces us without restraint.

The way I see it, God could have sent down a Dr. Manhattan. He could have seen us all as the swirling debris of atoms, walked among us as a glowing, awesome, spectacle of a man, not caring for the things that make us human: culture, emotion, dignity, and so on. But we didn't get that. Instead we got Someone who cared more deeply for us than anyone before or after. Jesus didn't recoil or tire at the turmoil of human nature, He paid the ultimate sacrifice to make a way out.

Watchmen was written by an atheist, and it makes sense that an atheist picture of a god-like man would be the antithesis of Jesus. But I'm glad for the truth of Scripture: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

*UPDATE* For those of you who stumble on this post from Google, I've got a question for you here.

A Strange Thing Happened to Me

Last night my wife and I went before the session of elders in our church to seek their endorsement for our application to seminary. They asked us both to share our testimony and to share our calling to ministry. I had a few thoughts about the whole thing.

About an hour before we left to go, Megan reminded me that I needed to dress up a little to look presentable. To be honest, this irritated me, and not because of Megan but because of the pretense behind it all. We were about to go before some imposing men and women, people who were CEO's, judges, doctors, and so on. People whom I'd met in church and knew vaguely, but really only knew that they were in positions of leadership. Before these people I was going to share my life and my calling, two very deep parts of my soul. When I share on these things I share all with no shame and with complete nakedness. So I felt a little annoyed that I had to "dress up" when I was about to "get naked" in front of intimidating people who I really didn't know well. I really felt on some sub-conscious level that if I couldn't wear jeans and a t-shirt in front of these people for fear of not looking "presentable", how could I pour out my soul with the blights and mistakes that marred its history?

Well, I got over myself. I reassured myself that even if I felt that way, the people I was soon to be talking with probably didn't. And Megan reminded me that when I am giving a speech, or going for a job interview, I try and look presentable then too. Nonetheless, I went into the session vaguely not wanting to be there.

Fast-forward to the end of the meeting. Megs and I had just shared our lives and our calling to a group of dignified-looking men and women, in a room that echoed that dignity with tall ceilings, paintings on the walls, and a long conference table ringed with the elders of our church. I had just poured out the story of God's grace and discipleship of my life, and in the meantime had answered some questions about our calling. As several elders got up and talked with me about what I had just shared, I realized that I didn't want to leave. I wanted to continue to share, to tell more about God's work in my life, and to hear about God's work in theirs. I had learned long ago that honesty begets honesty, nakedness begets nakedness, so there was an atmosphere of openness and sharing in that room now.

And I realized that when I'd been upset earlier, maybe that was a bit of pride. Maybe I had felt, underneath my bluster, that these people didn't deserve my story because they couldn't be open with me, with their pretense and ties and suits. And of course, I was wrong. A testimony of God's work, whether I'm telling that story or someone else, is not something to be hidden or withheld. No matter the audience or my perception of the audience, God's praise must be given. The stones should not have to cry out.

For When You Have Free Time

So, just ran across two interesting examples of what people do with their free time.

The first is probably the more constructive, and fascinating of the two. An englishman started building a replica of the Jewish temple Herod built during Jesus' time when he was 40. He's 78 now and doesn't think he'll finish his project in his lifetime. The amount of detail in his scale model is staggering. The article mentions that he lends binoculars to guests so they can see all the details. Personally, I'd love to just sit for a while and inspect every corner of this thing because it looks so incredibly detailed...

The other example of what to do in your free time is humorous, and perhaps a bit disturbing. Laid out here are some detailed directions for creating your very own, fly-powered model airplane. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, an aircraft that will fly under the power of pitiful, garden variety house-flies, inured as engines. The instructions helpfully state that, "none of [the flies] will have experienced anything like this before!" And that's the sad truth.

Oh, The Irony

This article in the New Scientist magazine is hilarious in it's one-sided take on an experiment someone did with "teleological" statements. Basically what they did was ask a bunch of people "true or false" through a number of statements based on the subtle idea that there was purpose in creation. On the surface a statement such as "Earthworms tunnel underground to aerate the soil" may seem harmless, but the innocuous word "to" makes it a question that determines cause and effect, rather than a mere statement. If they had said "Earthworms tunnel underground and aerate the soil," it would have counted as a true statement.

As it turns out, regardless of a persons religious orientation, they reliably orient towards the subtly, purpose-tinged statements. The article notes that children have a stronger tendency towards this. However, New Scientist chalks this up to some latent ignorance that must be cleaned up through solid education (despite the fact that the test-takers had college degrees). One scientist seems to lament that even "Dawkins or Einstein or whomever... no matter how expert or educated they are, they might still make these mistakes."

First, I find it interesting that there even exists an experiment that seemed to show that we're "primed" (they changed the headline from "hard-wired" after people objected to it in the comments) for, not simply a latent belief in God, but for hope and a desire for there to be purpose in our world. Secondly, I find it funny, and a bit sad, that the people responsible for the article seem to think it a wrong thing to believe in purpose. I get the feeling that the "correct" viewpoint on our world is that nothing has purpose, it merely is, and the only option is to "educate" people to their innate bias so that we realize that there is only existence, and nothing beyond.

Having been taught faith from an early age, it's hard for me to get in the mind of someone who is purely existential. In the moments of doubt and struggle that have brought me close to the brink of hopelessness, I've stared in the cold, dark maw of a life without God and seen clearly that there is no life there after all. I can only pray that for the people who encounter this experiment, they will come to realize that they are indeed "hard-wired" for hope, a desire for purpose, and for God.