Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another Headache in Iraq

If Turkey invades Iraq to punish the Kurds and we don't stop them will that give a green light to Iran to launch raids on the Kurds? And if we do try to stop the Turks what would be the ramifications of that?

This is a real mess and how well it's handled will be a measure of the Bush administration's diplomatic adroitness. Every American should hope that Turkey relents because if they do not the whole region could go up in flames.

Fortunately, good sense seems to have prevailed in the Democratic caucus and enough Democrats are backing away from the resolution to condemn Turkey for the massacre of Armenians in 1915 to place its future in doubt. The last thing we need right now is to offend the Turks with a formal condemnation of a crime committed by the long-gone Ottoman Empire ninety years ago.


Taking a Bite Outa' Crime

Apparently the criminals in this town don't read the papers. Either that or they're suicidal. Whichever it is one thing is fairly sure, there are fewer of them today than there were a month ago.


On Time and the Age of the World

Scientists tell us the universe is some 13 billion years old while young earth creationists maintain that according to the biblical book of Genesis it's only about 10,000 years old. So which is it? It may be that both sides are correct - it all depends on how we look at time.

Time is generally considered to be an objective dimension of reality. It's believed to exist independently of our human experience of it. If there were no humans, according to this view, time would still roll on. Perhaps this is correct, but there is another possibility. Suppose that time is not an objective phenomenon at all but rather a subjective phenomenon. Suppose that time, not just our sense of time, is actually something that our minds impose upon the world just like they create color, fragrance, sound, and so on. If there were no minds there'd be no color, only electromagnetic radiations. Color is the mind's interpretation of these radiations and perhaps time, too, is a creation of the mind.

If so, then time, like color or sound, did not exist until there were human perceivers (for the sake of brevity let's ignore animal perceivers) on earth.

If this is the case, then there may have been a vast sequence of events that led up to man's appearance on earth - a Big Bang, stellar life cycles, stellar nucleosynthesis, the origin of our sun and earth, the origin of living things, etc., but these events did not occur in our time frame. They were tenseless events.

To understand this, imagine videotaping a friend going about his everyday life for, say, two hours. Your friend would experience two hours of time elapsing, and, were you to view the tape, it would take two hours to watch it. The tape, however, could be sped up so that every event is still witnessed and still stands in the same relative spatio-temporal relation to every other event on the tape, but it only takes two minutes to watch it, or two seconds. Theoretically the information on the tape could be compressed so that it takes virtually no time at all.

To your friend "in" the film time would be unchanged, but from the perspective of you the viewer "outside" the film the lapse of time would be whatever you chose it to be. You, as an observer, are not in the same time as is your friend in the video and your perspective on the amount of time it takes for the events on the tape to unfold is completely different.

Perhaps, were we an observer embedded somehow in the universe during the events leading up to the appearance of human beings, it would seem to us to have taken billions of years, but since there were no observers to these events, at least not observers in our temporal frame of reference, it's really meaningless to talk about how long it actually took to go from the moment of creation to the first appearance of human beings. All the events that precede man's arrival might be compressed like a zip file, occurring almost instantaneously, though in the same relationship with each other, and then, once human minds appear, the occurrence of those events gets "stretched out."

Our minds place the events that scientists believe happened into a temporal context so that as we extrapolate back we say that an event that would today take one year would also have taken one year before there were minds, but in fact what we mean is that the event would have taken one year if there had been human witnesses to observe it. If there were no such observers, however, it is meaningless to talk about how long events took to occur. It's like asking what is north of the north pole. The events literally took no time at all.

Perhaps, the writer of Genesis is trying to put something like this into words we can understand when he talks about the days of creation. God creates the universe in a relatively brief period of time, perhaps instantaneously, perhaps more slowly. If this is so, then the Genesis account gives us a good idea of the age of human civilization, but how much time preceded the appearance of humans is inscrutable. It may have been very long or it may have been relatively brief or there may have been no time at all. We can only say that were those same events to occur in such a way that we could observe them they would take billions of years. Whatever time it actually took, however, was determined by God's temporal context, not ours, since He was the only observer.