Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Couple of Rarities

The winter season often brings rare birds to my part of the country and this year has not disappointed. Two of the unusual species to be spotted in Pennsylvania so far this season are shown below.

The little fella pictured below is a Pacific-slope flycatcher. They're normally found in the Pacific coast states but recently one turned up in Cumberland county in Pennsylvania almost three thousand miles out of its usual range. The Pennsylvania bird was only the second confirmed sighting of this species in the state.

Another rare bird found to be visiting Pennsylvania recently was a Calliope hummingbird, the smallest North American bird and the smallest long-distance migrant bird in the world. The Calliope is only about three inches long and is normally only found in the western mountain states. The first picture shows an adult male Calliope, the second shows a juvenile, which is what turned up in Chester county a couple of weeks ago.

Great Review of Absence

Emails like this one from a reader named T.J. just make my day:
I finished reading In the Absence of God yesterday, which isn't anything to marvel at other than the fact that I also started reading In the Absence of God yesterday. I don't think I've ever read an entire book in one sitting before, and I certainly wasn't planning on reading this book in one day, but I simply couldn't put it down. Also, I don't think a book has ever affected me so deeply as this one has. I cannot stop thinking about the ideas that were presented throughout In the Absence of God.

I was nervous when I started reading the book that I would be bored by an abundance of philosophical ideas, but the conversations in the book were engaging and masterfully weaved throughout the action and plot. The speech at the end by "Smerk" gave me chills as I was reading it, and I was deeply disturbed by how true it was that this was the logical conclusion of a materialist worldview.

I identified with Professor Weyland in that I have been through some very difficult struggles with my faith because it seems as though the more "intellectual" and "logical" way to look at the world is through the lens of materialism. This book answered many questions that I've been asking for a long time, and I feel stronger in my faith because of it.

One quote in particular stuck with me as I finished the book, "For so much of his life Weyland simply took for granted that atheism made so much more sense, was so much more reasonable, so much more intelligent, than theism, but he could no longer think that. He'd never again be able to think his rejection of God, if that was the choice he ultimately made, was because atheism was so much more appealing or satisfying. What appeal is there in a worldview that has no answer to life's most important questions?" This describes where my mind was before reading this book.

Thank you for writing this book and reminding me of the truth I should have known all along.
If you'd like to read more about In the Absence of God click on the link at the upper right of this page. It'd make a fine Christmas gift.