The Thrill of Discovery

Apologetics, Thoughts
(11 of 11 in a series) Hanging on my office wall is an advertisement torn from a geophysical magazine several years ago.  The page size print shows a little girl at the beach holding tightly to her brother’s foot as he digs deep in the sand looking for buried treasure.  The picture of determination on the little girl’s face is priceless.  The caption reads, “If it’s there, we’ll find it.” The reason this photo has followed me from office to office, job to job is because it captures, in visual form, the essence of the job of a geophysicist.  We use our training, skills, and keen eye for observation to look for buried treasure.  The “buried treasure” that geophysicists seek can take many forms:  oil, natural gas, water, minerals, fault lines…
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True Freedom

Apologetics, Thoughts
(10 of 11 in a series) When we hear the word freedom, we often think in terms of politics.  As part of a democracy, we are a free people.  Or we equate freedom with a suspension of the rules.  Teenagers are keen on gaining their freedom by having the house rules lifted as they get older.  Or we think in terms of morality, wishing we could act any way we please free from the ethics of our society, or religion, or peers.  Can this be true freedom? The Bible teaches that true freedom does not equal autonomy.  Complete freedom in terms of total autonomy from any master, motivation, or influence is not an option for us in the human race as much as we like to think it is.  We are…
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The Lost Son and the Lovesick Father

Apologetics, Thoughts
(9 of 11 in a series) Jesus told a parable – a story that illustrates a spiritual truth – about a lost son.  As the story goes, a wealthy landowner had two sons.  The younger son requested his share of the inheritance from his father so he could set out on his own.  The father agreed and the younger son took the money and headed off to a far away country.  After squandering his inheritance on loose living, the son ended up working on a hog farm in a time of famine and was in the process of starving to death.  When the son came to his senses, he said, “My father’s servants are treated so much better than this.  I will go to my father.  I will throw myself…
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Good News

Apologetics, Thoughts
(8 of 11 in a series) Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  It is a basic premise of this blog, as well as the message of Jesus, that truth exists and that it can be known. When I leave my home in northwest Houston, I am faced with the concrete reality of a maze of roads that lead to my downtown office.  These roads are literally a concrete reality.  That is, if I want to travel safely from point A to point B, I must travel the roads where they are.  If I decide the highway system is not “truth” for me and head off cross country, I have absolutely no hope of reaching my destination.  Even with a four-wheel drive SUV,…
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The Shoe Fits

Apologetics, Thoughts
(7 of 11 in a series) The depravity of man has become in our day a compelling argument for the truth of the Christian message.  Modern man, when he is thinking, knows he is sick.  Recognizing our desperate condition is not the problem.  A large portion of the pop music of my generation was summarized in Steely Dan's, "Any world that I am welcome to is better than the one I come from."  In literature, music, and art, nihilism is a common theme; we know something is amiss.  Unfortunately, our “sickness” has clouded our vision and blinded our eyes to the true solution. It is my contention that when we embrace the “good news” message of Jesus Christ, the blinders come off and a whole new world opens up to…
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Summarizing the Data

Apologetics, Thoughts
(6 of 11 in a series) It is time to analyze our collected observations.  Let’s review our “data” to this point.  Observation one:  The incredibly complex and orderly universe we inhabit implies a creator.  Observation two:  Man has a desire for a relationship with a supreme being.  Observation three:  Man has an innate bent toward moral and artistic beauty.  Observation four:  Man has an incredible capacity for cruelty. In fitting these "data" into a religion, belief system, or philosophy, I believe that the most thorough and reasonable explanation for these observations is found in the message of Christianity.  But in order to make this connection, we must set aside any preconceived notions or caricatures of what is meant by the word “Christian”.  In this blog, the Christian message has no political…
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Capacity for Cruelty

Apologetics, Thoughts
(5 of 11 in a series) When we observe acts of violence that illustrate the moral depravity of our nature, we often react with comments such as “that’s inhuman!”  Unfortunately, man’s inhumanity to man is all too human and is, in fact, an unchangeable condition of man being man.  One of the surprising observations at the Nazi war crimes trials was that the perpetrators of the Holocaust appeared to be normal.  The scary part is that for the most part they were.  Man's capacity for cruelty is observation number four. Man is sick and we know it.  From the evening news to the thoughts and intents of our own hearts, we know something is wrong.  What can explain the massacre, some years ago, of Albanians in Kosovo including a toddler with…
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Artistic and Moral Beauty

Apologetics, Thoughts
(4 of 11 in a series) When we turn our calculating scientist’s eye on ourselves, we capture observation number three.  Man has an incredible capacity for beauty.  Both in our ability to reflect on beauty and our ability to act in ways that are morally beautiful. In the first instance, reflecting on beauty, who has not marveled at an incredible sunset or the majestic peaks of a snow-covered mountain range?  In the beauty of the natural world as well as in the work of the artist and musician, collective man does not respond with a shrug and a “whatever”.  Instead, we purchase tickets to the concert or play.  We buy pieces of art that inspire us.  We photograph nature, people, and action.  We celebrate beauty in all its forms.  This…
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Our Search for God

Apologetics, Thoughts
(3 of 11 in a series) A second observation about the world we live in is man’s ongoing desire for a relationship with a supreme being.  Man’s belief in a deity crosses all boundaries of culture, education, and time.  The most primitive society has some sense of a “most perfect being” as does the most educated elite. In 1916, a survey of one thousand prominent American scientists revealed that 42% believed in a personal God.  While the public was appalled at the low percentage, the authors of the survey suggested that as scientific knowledge progressed through the twentieth century the number would soon approach zero.  That conclusion proved incorrect when the study was replicated in 1997 with a new group of science luminaries.  The percentage of “believers” was 39%, not…
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Is Someone Out There?

Apologetics, Thoughts
(2 of 11 in a series) Let's start our journey of discovery with some observations about the world as we know it.  Our first observation is that we inhabit an extremely complex yet orderly universe.  Many explanations for why this is so have been offered ranging from intelligent design to supernatural creation to the unguided march of evolution.  The detailed analysis of competing theories of origins has been written about in many places.  For our purposes, I ask you to trust me with this simple observation. Just as a wedding cake implies a baker and a watch implies a watchmaker, there is nothing in my geophysical training or practice that dissuades me from the straightforward conclusion that the incredibly complex and orderly world in which we dwell implies a creator. …
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The Truth That Sets Us Free – A Geophysics Lesson

Apologetics, Thoughts
(1 of 11 in a series) The author of this blog is a geophysicist.  Geophysicists study the physical properties of the geo, the earth, and make predictions about the composition, structure, and geologic attributes of the earth based on our observations.  With the entire earth (and beyond) as our “data set” to study, geophysicists are taught to think big picture.  Geophysicists are trained to develop both global and local theories based on sparse and sometimes conflicting data. We measure.  We study.  We evaluate.  We postulate.  We theorize.  We do algebra in our heads.  And we test our theories against the facts.  The theories that hold up become principles and laws of nature.  In essence, it is the job of the geophysicist to discover the truth about the earth and its form…
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