Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Meditation

Perhaps on this Thanksgiving eve it might be well to remind ourselves of the adjuration given to the Israelites who had much to be thankful for but who, like us, often took too much for granted. This would be an appropriate reading as we sit down with our families and friends to partake of the Thanksgiving feast.

Moses says to the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:10-14; 17-18):

When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall thank the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.

Be careful not to forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today. Lest when you have eaten and are satisfied and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery....[and] you say in your heart, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth."

But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you the power to make wealth...

Indeed. Anyone who thinks their "wealth" isn't fragile and ephemeral need only consider the stock market and how entire fortunes, accumulated over years of effort, could be wiped out in a couple of days of market collapse. We only need think of how quickly jobs, houses, possessions, and health can all slip away from us in a mere instant.

All of life's goods hang by a thread, and we should be thankful to God for every moment that the thread doesn't break.

Have a wonderful and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.


Ocean Beauties

Fox News has a photo gallery of twenty two newly discovered species of marine creatures. Many of the photos are gorgeous. Here's an example:

Comb jelly

Such beauty raises a host of questions. Why are we so drawn to beauty? How did our love of beauty come to be? If the Darwinians are correct, what survival value does appreciating beauty have that caused it to be selected for?

Some Darwinians argue that our delight in beauty has no particular survival value but rather evolved because it supervenes on other traits that are chosen by natural selection for their fitness. Imagine a basketball coach selecting players to play a particular position in which they must be able to get rebounds. Most such players will have large hands, because large hands supervene upon height (they often "occur together") and height is a trait which would assist in getting rebounds, the behavior being selected for.

The problem with the supervenience explanation, however, is that as a scientific hypothesis it's pretty much useless since there's no way to test it. A theory that can't be tested can't be shown either to be true or to be false and thus falls outside the bounds of science.

Our fascination with beauty - the fact that we find some things beautiful and enjoy them - is hard to explain in terms of blind, mindless forces acting randomly. It's hard to imagine that chemical reactions occurring in our brains somehow translate into the apprehension of beauty. How does such a thing happen? It's not hard to imagine at all, however, if we allow for the possibility that our sense of beauty were imparted to us by an intelligent creator who created not only our ability to discern the beautiful but also created the beauty he wishes us to enjoy.

For more of this beauty go to the link.