On the Wing

My front yard is roughly an acre square and takes about an hour and a half to cut on the yard tractor. A few summers back I had the wonderful experience of watching some special birds while cutting the grass. They were not very big just gently gliding along about 6 feet off the ground and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by my presence.

Yesterday, that experience came back to me and I decided to Google, “Swift”. Can’t say for sure, but it seems pretty clear to me now that that’s what my visitors were on those warm summer afternoons. So, I spent a little time learning about these little guys.

We in America have our own variety of these birds called the, “Chimney Swift”. Like most all swift species, they are born in little nests that their mom and dad build with their own spit (saliva) stuck to the sides of, well in this case, chimneys mostly. (ever heard of “bird’s nest soup”?) Chimneys that aren’t in use during the warmer months.

When they are old enough to fly, they exit the nest and never touch the ground again until they are ready to build their own nest! That’s right, they LIVE totally in the air. They even fly while they are ASLEEP! How far do they fly before they ever land? Several hundred thousand miles lets say. Now that’s endurance! The only time they ever land is to raise their young each summer.

Think of all the time and ingenuity that goes into designing and building our most advanced aircraft and multiply that complexity and efficiency by a few orders of magnitude and you have this little bird that existed pretty much the same as we see it today as ancient fossils in stone. Sure tells me a lot about it’s Designer!

Wayne Hollyoak

Boggles the Mind!

There are so many things about this universe that we live in that blow me away! The land we walk on, the house I live in, all the wonderful materials that man has been able to use to make things. Pine trees and oak trees, spruce, maple, rosewood and on and on provide building and cabinetmakers and even musical instrument makers with strong, durable and beautiful materials for use in make all sorts of useful things. Things that we depend on like telephone poles and books.

Snow on a fence

Wood comes from those wonderful living things we call trees which give us shade and block the wind and even produce tasty fruit and syrup. The wood itself is composed of material left over from living cells that gave the trees their strength and let them grow to great heights.

Even rocks and soil all around us are engineered to serve us in many useful ways. A little tar and gravel and you can make roads. Sand can be melted to make glass that lets us see the snow on the ground outside as clear as day even though we are inside dry and warm as can be. Even water in a plastic bottle can be refreshing on a hot dry day or it can fill an ocean that dolphins and whales can swim and play in.

Gases like oxygen and nitrogen have just the right qualities needed to keep our bodies functioning. Even at this molecular and atomic level the engineering is beautifully refined and tuned. The behaviors of all the subatomic particles and such give us a wide range of elements each with unique properties that make a seemingly infinite variety of materials.

We are absorbed and surrounded by so many fantastic materials, objects and gases that I find myself overwhelmed at how easy it is the just call them, “things” and take them all for granted. How could I have ever thought that this was just a cosmic accident? How will I ever come to appreciate all the hard work, planning, time, wisdom and patience it must have taken to get it all going? The love that our Creator shows us is impossible to measure in it’s span and depth and detail! And, yet that is only the beginning!

Wayne Hollyoak

The Very Limited Scope of Science

Just what is science? What can it do for us? What can we do for it?

At the most basic level, “science” is just a word. Seven letters that represent the latin word, “scientia” meaning, “knowledge”. Words are symbols for concepts. They help us communicate concepts. Things which help us share our thoughts, ideas, wishes, emotions, etc. with others. So, if “science” is a word or symbol that represents the concept of “knowledge”, then it is a fairly useful one. Especially if you see “knowledge” as a harvest of “responsible study” and a possible basis for “understanding”. In a practical sense, you could substitute the word, “knowledge” for “science” and maintain the original meaning. But, “science” has been transformed into something very different over the years. Today it is a symbol for an elite intellectual subculture. To become a member of what I call the, “scientific establishment” you generally need an “advanced degree” from a respected graduate school and be employed in your particular field of study.

So, “science” has become something quite different in modern times. In seeking to redefine itself, “science” has left much of it’s emphasis on “knowledge” behind. Nowadays the focus is more on, “methods” and “expertise”. If you have some knowledge that you want to share, you must back it up with objective proofs such as experimental tests. But, if you are deemed an “expert” you can bypass that step and just assert yourself and your ideas pretty much however you like, well within reason anyway.

So “science” has become a rather well defined “box” of “controllable and testable” theories about stuff. Which means that only a small minute portion of reality may become better understood using it. Anything that is “uncontrollable and untestable” is considered “unscientific”. This means that science has become completely stuck on itself, a control freak that wants the rest of the world to submit to its way of seeing the universe and everything in it.

All that to say that there are many mysteries in the universe and to life that aren’t subject to human manipulation and analysis. The occurrence of “coincidence”, a song bird sings happily to cheer you up on a really bad day, snow covering a forest somehow warms the heart, you “bump” into an old friend you haven’t seen in years at a remote place neither of you have been before an earthquake occurs the moment a gentle carpenter dies while nailed to a cross by jealous clerics, a sea parts as a shepherd raises his staff. Once in a while we are reminded of greater realities that exist, those that the self-absorbed “scientific establishment” chooses to ignore.

If you really want to understand yourself and the world around you, go to the Source. I’ve found that as I trust my Creator and learn from His book, the Bible, I’ve gained something that completely eludes “science”. That is the meaning and purpose of my life as well as life in general, and the universe we live in. This Source came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago to release mankind from its prison of pride and hatred and ignorance.

Without a strong foundation in the Bible and a confidence in its teachings, there is no real context for any “scientific” pursuit whatsoever. The Bible makes it clear that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. What is “wisdom” but “knowledge” in context of reality. I had to read through the Bible 3 times while carefully considering it’s teaching and sharing with the Creator my questions and need for help in understanding it before a pretty clear picture of what “faith in Christ” really means. There are so many ‘man made’ Jesus’ out there that have little or no resemblance to the real Jesus and it’s so important to distinguish them from the real McCoy.

Science that ignores the Source is a waste of time. Science that acknowledges and embraces the true Source can be a valuable tool for mankind. Even as grossly limited as it is. As a Christian, I realize the “expertise” is a myth. There is only one “Expert” and if we don’t learn from Him, we can never know beans!

Wayne Hollyoak