Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Typist: Monkey, Maker or Lucky Mud

I was discussing the new movie Expelled with my daughters the other day, and I was able to recount to them my own experience with the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate. For those of you who do not know, the movie is a documentary about free speech restrictions and harassment towards people – in the US of all places – who adhere to the Intelligent Design position.

As a Physics student who was also a new Christian at the time I often found myself in the middle of debates, but one occurrence always comes to memory. It took place in my Thermal Physics class where we were discussing the mathematical representation of entropy. Hey, don’t tune out here. I will keep it simple.

Here was my professor’s presentation: How long would it take a
monkey typing randomly to eventually type out Hamlet with no mistakes. The monkey of course cannot read, and we assume that in this thought experiment that even if we gave him 4 billion years of trial and error he would not just evolve into William Shakespeare and figure it all out. He is just a random key puncher.

Next, we increased the odds by allowing 30,000 monkeys to work together for 4 billion years. A lot of bananas needed for motivation. Will one of them come close to typing out Hamlet? The statistical answer is “NO”. Then my professor likened the odds to this happening to the odds of humans and chimpanzees not being genetically related. Yes, he used this to support evolution. Since there was very little difference in our two DNA's he postulated that we must have come from the same line.

The argument made a weak point, but there were other problems. The DNA line was similar, but it did not point to a common ancestral origin. It pointed to a common originator, designer or Creator as some us refer to Him. In much the same way that engineers use the wheel for a myriad of inventions the Creator used four limbs, a trunk and a head for most of His design.

I said nothing in class that day because I had a plan up my sleeve. The monkey argument had a more gaping flaw, so the next day before class I snuck in 30 minutes earlier and wrote on the board, “What is the statistical chance of nature at the typewriter being able to type out the classic work known as DNA in 4 billion years?” Hamlet contains over 130,000 letters and the odds of it being typed with a universe full of monkeys is 1 in 10183,800. This is basically ZERO.

Now for DNA. The human genome contains about 3,100,000,000 letters which is equivalent to 100 Manhattan phone books. This is 23,000 times the letters in Hamlet. We still come out with ZERO CHANCE, a bigger zero if you know what I mean.

Yet here we stand pondering the typist. Shakespeare, whose DNA is similar to a chimp, can type out Hamlet and a few other works, but a chimp cannot type out the word “banana”. There is another Typist I think – you may not agree – and in light of the sheer impossibility of wind, water & fire being in the publishing business it is not unreasonable to inquire if there is a ghost writer behind it all.

My professor – one of my favorites – walked into the class, read the board, grunted and then erased my question. He did not do the math.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalms 19:1

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meeting Me & Becoming Them

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 1 Cor 4:15

There are some questions that God will not answer directly. It’s as if He waits until our maturity level or experience gives us a basis for understanding the answer. For me one of the questions in life has been understanding my leaders and being frustrated because they just could not understand me. As I grew, learned to forgive and began to lead others there was still a subtle nagging sting of past misunderstandings and hurts that remained without closure. Then the answer came from two directions at once.

I met me. I never planned to meet him, and I was not prepared to meet him. Actually, I began to lead people – some of them young leaders – who reminded me a lot of myself when I was a younger leader or when I started following Christ. As I began to help these people through familiar struggles I became surprisingly embarrassed. It was as if I was in one of those dreams where I am naked in a room and no one notices except me. (don’t laugh, you know you have had this dream too) The nakedness I now felt was in realizing how I must have looked to more mature believers and leaders when I thought I knew it all. How patient had they been? How much had they overlooked? This was the first half of God’s answer to me. I had met myself.

The next part was the hardest part. As I helped these growing leaders I found myself offending them in the same way that my leaders had hurt me. I meant well, but their expectations were too high. I never meant to offend. I explained and apologized. Some forgave and grew. Some did not. In this moment God answered. I had not only met myself but had become those whom I could not forgive. Understanding came, the offense in my heart lessened or vanished altogether and I realized the truth of the matter.

  • Spiritual fathers are great, but they are few and far between.
  • Even if we have spiritual fathers we need to have realistic expectations. Herein lies most offenses. They are perceived offenses.
  • Leaders are not God, they are not our real fathers and as we grow their influence has to decrease as we become fathers ourselves and get to know The Father.
  • God cannot answer some questions without growth on our part. If He simply told us the truth we might not believe it.
  • Mirrors come in many forms.
  • Even at our best we are just like those whom we can’t seem to forgive.

When G.K Chesterton was asked to contribute an article to the Times on “What is Wrong with the World?” he responded with the letter:

Dear Sirs,
I am.
Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Heb 12:9-10

Recent Blog:
Forrest Starts His Church Plantin Bidness