Let the Earth Bring Forth Life

Sensational headlines get attention, so you can’t blame Salon for the bit of hyperbole in the title of the article God is on the Ropes, about a new theory that claims “Under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life”–certain conditions being those that prevail on a planet such as the earth.

I have been thinking for a while about a couple of verses in Genesis 1.  In the first God says, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation” (1:11).  Then in verse 24 “Let the earth bring forth living creatures (animals).”  Similar is verse 20, “Let the waters team with living creatures.”

God assigns a role in creation to the earth.  Other verses describes God as arranging “certain conditions,” separating the land mass from the oceans, providing an atmosphere, and roles for the sun, moon, and stars.

Genesis 1 uses simple images to describe the process of creation and the sequential development of life on earth as the creator willed.  If the language of science is mathematics, then you would have to say Genesis is unscientific because it does not use scientific formulas.  But there is nothing in Genesis 1 incompatible with what the natural sciences have shown us about the origin and development of life on the earth.

The Greatest Invention of the Twentieth Century is . . .

In my humble opinion, the greatest invention of the twentieth century was the bicycle derailleur shifting system.

This invention made the bicycle a realistic mode of transportation in a variety of terrains.

Average people with a few weeks of practice can travel on a modern multi-speed bicycle on moderately hills roads at an average speed of around 13 miles per hour.  With improved fitness a normal adult can average 15 miles per hour.  This makes daily commutes of 7-10 miles realistic.

Of course elite athletes race up steep mountains at speeds over 20 miles per hour, and they descend the other side of the mountain at 50 mph or more.

Before the derailleur was allowed in the Tour de France in 1938, racers had two gears, one on each side of the rear wheel.  Just before entering a mountain stage, for example, they could pull over, remove the rear wheel and flip it around.  In those days riders didn’t have support teams.  They had to carry tools and supplies in their pockets with spare tires slung over their shoulders.

Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release in 1927 after frozen fingers prevented him from turning the wing nuts to release his wheel so he could flip it around.  He went on to found a bicycle parts company that eventually perfected (though they did not invent) the derailleur.  The device itself began to appear as early as 1905.  Its predecessors included complex systems of levers and pulleys.

The bicycle was invented early in the 1800s.  Hundreds of bicycle companies rose up in the United States.  By 1900 there were two large patent offices in the nation’s capital.  One was for bicycle inventions, the other was for everything else.

Susan B. Anthony once said,

The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else.

The bicycle could also do a lot to emancipate us from dependence on oil.  The author’s of the book Bicycle Science estimate that a human powered by the equivalent number of calories in a gallon of gasoline could travel about 1000 miles.  Or, drinking milk instead of gasoline (remember milk is over 90% water) a rider could go about 99 miles.  If riders neglected to replenish all those calories, cycling could also help liberate us from the plague of obesity and diabetes.

Sources:

Jim Langley, Campy Only, Pedaling History.

Date Night

Sonja and I are going tonight to see the Movie about Temple Grandin, staring Claire Danes, and tomorrow to see Temple in Person.  Both events are at 7 PM in the K-State Union.

Temple Grandin is the author of Animals in Translation. She has autism, and says she thinks in pictures and details like animals, not in abstractions and concepts like other people.  She says she understands animal emotions.

Animals do not get conflicted.   They experience one emotion at a time.

I also remember a scene in her book where she describes meeting B.F. Skinner, who turned out to be a creepy old man.

 

Your Chance to Save the Farm

Any entrepreneurs out there who like fresh, wholesome, local food?

Iwig family dairy is selling stock to raise money so they can avoid for closure.  They need to sell about 60 shares (at $500.00) per share by July 23rd.  If they do, the bank has agreed to work with them.

We just entertained are grandchildren, and they love the chocolate milk (and the regular too.)  It is as rich as a good chocolate shake.

We enjoy walking a few blocks with Elijah and Ariana to the Alma creamery, where they sell Iwig milk and other dairy products, such as butter and ice cream that makes Ben and Jerry’s taste like some cheap generic brand.

The mega corporate dairies are making huge profits while small operations are struggling because the wholesale prices have fallen through the floor, while the retail prices are still high.

Investing in Iwig would be a risk–more like a charitable contribution with a chance of getting your investment back.  They say you should definitely not buy stock if you can’t afford the risk.

I hope those who can, will take the risk.

Checkout Iwig’s website for more details.

Gamblers Challenge:  Anyone who was planning to go to the casinos this weekend, why not bet on the dairy instead?

Oily Hair?

Since hair is a natural oil absorber, tons of donated hair are going to soak up the oil spill on the gulf coast.  Matter of Trust tells how you can help.

Why Haiti Suffers

This week’s earthquake was a natural disaster, totally unexpected by everyone except for professional seismologists.  Of all the causes of Haiti’s suffering, only the earthquake itself does not have human fingerprints on it.

Colonial Exploitation

Haiti was once a fertile island paradise (well, half an island: it shares the land mass with Dominica).  The French colonized the western half of the island of Hispaniola. The indigenous population was quickly destroyed by exposure to influenza and other infections brought by the Europeans.  They were soon replaced by slaves kidnapped from Africa.  The French fed their country with food grown on Haiti’s rich soil.

Environmental Desolation

The French and the corrupt rulers who followed them over-exploited the land and destroyed its fertility.  There are few trees left on Haiti–there are a few-oranges, grapefruits, avocados, mangoes–they are sweet but rare.  A few people make a living selling their fruit.  But there are not enough trees left to prevent erosion, which makes flooding and other natural disasters worse.  I visited Haiti 20 years ago, and I don’t recall seeing a bird.  I do remember seeing the local Haitians recycle used motor oil–they poured it on any pools of standing water to kill mosquitoes.

Political Corruption

In 1804 Haiti became the second nation in the Western hemisphere to declare its independence.  In a glorious revolution that should have made the French proud, they killed every white person on the island.  Tragically, since gaining a form of autonomy, Haiti has been ruled by its own dictators and corrupt leaders.  The notorious Duvaliers used the fear of voodoo along with old-fashioned terror and brutality to keep its citizens from enjoying the fruits of freedom.

Who is Helping?

I doubt there is any group of people subject to more negative stereotypes than missionaries.  (Read The Poisonwood Bible, which one of my students who group up as a missionary kid thought was “funny.”)  The people of Haiti know different.  They know that the missionaries are not bigoted, proselyting zealots–they are there to help.  The missionaries run schools, children’s homes, and clinics.  They assist people in farming projects and micro-enterprises.  I will admit, sometimes they tell the people things like–

You are beautiful, you are a child of God.

Hold your head up, God loves you.

There are, of course, many people working with non-governmental aid agencies that are not religiously affiliated.  Usually the missionaries and “secular” aid workers respect each other and work side by side.  They are all there to help the people of Haiti.

One mission trying to help the land of Haiti with long-term recovery is “Eden Reforestation Projects.”  Two missionaries from the Free Methodist Church working with Eden Reforestation are reported in critical condition, and three are missing, after the earthquake, according to our local Eden Vigil representative Lowell Bliss.

Support Your Local Cow

After reaching records highs a year ago, wholesale milk prices–the prices paid to farmers–have plummeted to a 40-year low.  As a result, many dairy farms are facing bankruptcy.  Two or three large agribusiness concerns control most of the milk industry.  Most farmers have no choice but to sell to them, even at a loss.  You probably haven’t notice much difference in the price at the store.  The “middleman” is making a killing.

There are a couple of area dairies that are bucking the trend.  We buy either Iwig or Emerich milk  (See “Mum in Bloom” for photos.)  Both are small scale, locally owned operations.  Both dairies treat their cows humanely and avoid injecting artificial hormones or routine antibiotics. They sell their milk, butter, and ice cream at local grocery stores, and at the Alma Creamery.

When my grandson is visiting we enjoy taking the short walk to the Alma Creamery to buy some cheese and a half-gallon of milk in an old-fashioned glass bottle.   In the past year, I have broken three bottles, through my own negligence–on the other hand I haven’t been putting plastic bottles in the local landfill, so I’ve learned not to cry over spilled milk.

I recently learned that at least one of these dairies is having a tough time financially.  To all of my friends in NE Kansas–do yourself a favor.  See how much better naturally and humanely produced milk tastes.  Support Iwig or Emerich.  If your grocery story doesn’t sell it, ask them.  In Manhattan, Kansas, you can find it at People’s Grocery or Eastside and Westside markets.  In Lawrence, try the Merc.  Here in Alma both the local grocery story and the Alma Creamery sell it.

If you know of other places that sell local dairy products, let me know.

By the way, the ice cream, chocolate milk, and eggnog (available around Christmas) are fabulous.  (More)