Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nature. Show all posts

10 May 2010

Biology and the economy

Humanity has become nothing less than a plague on the earth. The Bible calls us to be stewards of this planet, A crowd scene in Hong Kongbut instead we are well on the way to wrecking it.

A BBC News item today reports that loss of habitat and species will soon begin to have a major impact on the world economy. There is so far little evidence that governments have grasped the size of the problems or their urgency, perhaps we are paralysed like a child who has thrown a ball and broken a window. Denial is easier than taking responsibility, owning up, and attempting to make amends. This is in addition to anthropogenic climate change and other issues (pollution, overuse of water resources, dwindling mineral stocks etc).

What we face is little short of catastrophe, but we are doing so little about it. We talk about more efficient agriculture, power generation from wind, sunshine, tides, and waves, recycling of waste, but we don't yet realise that we are merely tinkering. The greatest problem is rarely discussed because it is so difficult - there are simply far too many of us sharing the surface of our small planet.

One good sign is that greater affluence is resulting in falling birthrates in the developed world. In Europe, North America, Australasia, and the developed parts of Asia, birth rates are close to or even below replacement levels. But the less developed areas of Asia and Africa and to a lesser degreee South America still have burgeoning populations.

We must do what we can to reduce the world's population. If we do not - and quickly - the world will do the job for us through steadily increasing starvation and disease. This is likely to be widespread through the developed world as well as less privileged regions.

03 May 2010

Science and faith - a view from Nature

I've just spotted a piece by Philip Ball in the journal 'Nature'. The cosmic microwave background radiationHe makes some very good points and supports my own views about the awesome behaviour of the natural world. He states,
Were I inclined to believe in an omnipotent God, I should be far more impressed by one who had intuited that a world in which natural selection operates autonomously will lead to beings that function as well as humans (for all our flaws) than by one who was constantly having to make adjustments.

Quite! Unlike Philip Ball, perhaps, I do believe in an omnipotent Prime Cause. I have often thought that the power behind the universe would have to be exceptionally clever to design physical laws that would require energy to bundle itself up in tiny packets that would interact in just the right way to form atoms of hydrogen and helium on the tiniest scales which would then coalesce gravitationally on very large scales to produce galaxies and stars.

These same physical laws ensure that stars will create all the elements up to iron and supernova explosions will synthesise the rest. Simple sugars, amino acids, and nucleotides will form in conditions that are not uncommon in the dusty discs around later populations of young stars, planets will form in these discs and life will arise almost inevitably. Once self-replicating systems are present Darwinian evolution is certain to begin its work and more and more complex life forms will appear as the millions and billions of years pass. Intelligence seems to be pretty much inevitable too.

So much from so little - indeed so much from absolutely nothing! This is one of the reasons I find it impossible not to believe in a power behind the universe. And somehow, though he might not agree, I don't think Philip Ball will hold that against me. Our positions are at the same time only slightly different yet fundamentally opposite. I believe in a Creator, he doesn't, yet we both see the same mechanisms operating and bringing about the rich universe we live in.

Truly, faith and science have no reason to argue. It saddens me greatly to see disagreements about the origin of the universe, evolution, palaeontology and the rest. It particularly saddens me as a trained scientist to see that most of the arguments against science are based on misunderstandings or false assumptions. It alarms me that matters like anthropogenic global climate change are dismissed. And it angers me when scientists' motives and morals are questioned. Scientists are not immune to mistakes or even (rarely) deliberate fraud, but the overwhelming majority are seeking for truth - verifiable, testable, truth.

(See also my previous post.)

05 March 2010

Climate change - An update

There is really no room for doubt that we are affecting the world's climate in a wide variety of harmful ways. BBC news item on the Met Offfice reportA new report from the Met Office finds the evidence has stacked up even more strongly since the IPCC report in 2007. Read the BBC's news item on the Met Office report.

There's more Met Office information on their climate change page. Well worth a look if you want to know more.

(This update is intended to add new information to my earrlier blog 'Climate change - Truth or deception?')

01 March 2010

Climate change - Truth or deception?

Most scientists are agreed, we have a serious problem on our hands. A typical glacierPossibly less severe than we fear but just as possibly more severe than we fear. Meanwhile there are plenty of sceptics who claim the data has been fixed or incorrectly analysed.

It's no good speculating and it's no good just crossing our fingers. We need to know whether the science is sound or not. It makes a difference. Do we need to stop releasing CO2 and methane or can we safely continue as we've been going?

Whichever side of the debate you are on, I strongly urge you to take a good look at Dan Satterfield's latest blog post. He has no doubt which side he is on. I agree with him and I really want to encourage everyone to read his post and its two main references and draw their own conclusions. This is one of the best posts on this topic that I have seen.

14 November 2008

Release it and let it fly

Have you ever held a wild bird in your hands? It's an extraordinary experience, the soft warmth of the feathers, the bright, shiny eyes, A blackbirdthe quivering of life held captive and quietly biding its time until it can be free again.

Some people keep birds as pets - budgies, parakeets, canaries, or finches. My first wife and I had three budgies over the years and it was a great way to get to know their individual personalities and foibles as well as the more general awesomeness of minutely patterned feathers and the miracle of flight.

But a wild bird held in the hand and then released to freedom, that is something altogether different.

First catch a bird - This is no easy task! Nor would I encourage anyone to try to catch a wild bird, it is certain to cause distress and perhaps injury. But several times I've had to catch a bird that's been accidentally trapped in a building. I've found that a quiet approach is best, confining the bird in a corner and cupping my hands around it gently and slowly has always worked in the end.

I remember this happening at Long Ashton Research Station (now long gone). I worked there from 1970 until 1998, there was an upstairs corridor bridging two of the main buildings and I found a frightened male blackbird trapped there when I came in to work one Saturday - there was nobody else around. The corridor had glass sides and doors at either end that were usually kept closed. The bird flew up and down the corridor and then backed into a corner where I was able to catch him quite easily.

Release - I carried the warm, passive bundle downstairs and out to the main entrance. I set him down on the concrete steps just outside the lobby, he looked around for a moment, spread his wings, and flew away squawking madly. What a joy to see him go, free again at last!

Even more delightful was the immediate appearance of a hen blackbird, evidently his mate. I have no idea how long the sleek, black male had been trapped, but she had hung around waiting for his return. And now, here he was, none the worse for his ordeal.

Freedom for the Church - There's a reason for relating this story just now. Just this morning I read a post by Prayeramedic on The Irony of Actuality. He writes,

I've been reading some more Kierkegaard -- very deep stuff, but profound (when I can make sense of it).

After showing that he has indeed made very good sense of Kierkegaard's words he quotes from another post entitled Uncontrollable. In it, Daniel writes,

Lately, we've been remarking on just how many different people we keep coming across, different spheres of where God is stirring things up, challenging his people to question the status quo, and ask Him once again how it is that He wants us to live as His disciples. What is so remarkable is that the more we scan the horizon, the more we begin to glimpse the scope and the massive scale of this response to the Spirit's prompting. One of the key characteristics of this shift, is that there is a growing understanding that the Kingdom is not run by a chain of command, no hierarchy, and that in fact there never was. As that reality is grasped, it is almost like seeing the ocean for the first time. No one owns it. No one controls it. No one person, and no one group, can claim to even to be able to monitor and record all that is happening amongst those who belong to Christ around the world.

We see people awakening to the idea that they do not in fact need to meet in special, religiously-oriented buildings, but can in fact meet anywhere, be it a coffee shop, park, beach, or home.

Trapped in a corridor - I was reminded of the blackbird. Like the bird, the Church has been trapped in a corridor. In the Church's case it's a corridor consisting of rules and regulations, power struggles, structures, organisations, and doctrines.

Just as the bird can see out, but not get out, so many in the Church have seen outside the box and have wanted to find the way out. But we can't get out on our own initiative, we need outside help. We need the Holy Spirit to steer us, we need the Shepherd to call us on, we need to be rescued and released.

Just in our day, it seems, people are catching a new vision of what it means to be a believer and follower of Christ. It doesn't mean sitting in a pew once a week, it does mean getting out into the world and living transformed lives in which friends, family, colleagues, and strangers alike can begin to see, not us, but Christ in us.

We are being lifted up by the gentle hands of Grace and deposited on the outside of this structure that has trapped us for so long. Now we are free to fly! Sometimes we need to be 'backed into a corner' like the blackbird before we can be lifted and removed from the place where we've been trapped.

Go on, stretch those wings, take a great leap into the air and fly. You have the freedom to do it, right now.

Begin to live - Let's be clear, it's quite possible for us to fly free - yet immediately start work on building a new structure! That's not what we are called to do. Yahshua told us, 'I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life'. He is the Way so we need to be guided by him and follow the course he has set. He is the Truth so we are to believe all that he says about himself and about the Father and about our place and role in this world. And he is the Life so we are to live his life here in the world, not our own life.

Living our own lives is what got us into this mess in the first place. But now we can fly free and truly be his people in this place.

15 September 2008

Rape and pillage

When a nation is defeated in war, the victors take whatever remains. Bluefin tunaIn the last fifty years the human race has waged war on the environment, but the environment has pretty much lost the war and we're now taking what remains.

I assume you can see the terrible flaw in our thinking (or lack of it).


It was true of the ancient empires and city states and it's still true today - in all out war the victor takes anything that remains. Sometimes it's slaves, sometimes it's property, sometimes it's the lives and welfare of the defeated population, often it's all three, but when victory is complete it is always very bad news for the losers.

The BBC published an article today about the plight of the bluefin tuna, it's a good article, everyone should read it, but it's only the tip of the environmental iceberg. It seems the tuna is now in real danger of extinction, the very existence of the 'tiger of the sea' is precariously balanced and yet we are still overfishing it.

Big trouble - The fact is that the environment is in big trouble. The knowledge that we all depend upon it for our daily lives has not yet impacted us nearly enough. But it will do - you may depend upon it.

The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, even the very land we stand on is in danger. Mankind has won a great victory over nature, but has not properly considered that nature itself is our only provider. We have all but killed the goose, the supply of golden eggs is just about ended.

Cod - Here's another cautionary tale from the sea. Cod stocks on the Canadian Grand Banks off Newfoundland have been depleted, and despite measures to reduce catch levels or even ban fishing altogether, they have so far failed to recover (article section from Wikipedia).

But it's not just sea fishing that's at risk, here's a shortlist of some other factors to consider.

Climate - there's now strong evidence that the earth's climate is changing in response to rising levels of carbon-dioxide and other gases. Ice in the Arctic Ocean is vanishing year on year, sea levels are rising, glaciers are retreating all over the globe, storms are becoming more frequent and more violent, extremes of temperature and rainfall are more common.

Pollution - of the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land is better in some respects, but is worse in many others. The long term prospect remains poor.

Fresh water - sometimes too much (flash flooding) but often too little (droughts, dry reservoirs, falling levels in aquifers, spreading deserts).

Deforestation - there has been some recovery in north-west Europe, but much loss of tropical forest. This loss seems to be accelerating.

Easter Island - There is a stark warning in the story of this barren land in the Pacific. Once forested and fertile, it was home to the Rapanui people who carved the vast, stone heads or 'Moai'. The civilisation here was at one time advanced, writing was invented independently, farming technology was an important part of the economy, timber and stone were both in use for building and for artistic or ceremonial use. Yet now there are almost no trees and the civilisation has vanished. Why? Because they over-exploited their natural resources. This is the tragedy of the commons in action.

We also face the same tragedy. Genesis 1:26-28 calls on us to manage the earth and all that is in it. The Hebrew verb 'radah' can be translated 'dominate'. And although managing something involves taking charge, it also requires wisdom and stewardship. The Rapanui conquered and dominated their island but they did not care for it as good stewards. What will tomorrow's historians write about us? And in what sense did the Rapanui truly 'dominate' their island? They are certainly not dominant now.

17 October 2004

Walking in the light (KN)

That's what this blog is all about, I've been trying to catch those special moments when something is clearly illuminated for me and, if I can, explain them in mere words.The River Great Ouse

Of course words are just not up to the job, but they're a start. A picture here and there helps, images are like short-cuts to the heart, worth a thousand words as the old adage has it.

But best of all is for each of us to walk in his light so that we all receive it fresh and first hand. You don't need my stale, second-hand light, you need your own, straight from the source.

I was walking along the riverbank yesterday, the sky was cloudy but with blue patches dotted around. The air was chilly and a light mist was starting to rise from the river. And then I was dazzled by the light...

A bend in the footpath brought me into full view of the river, and low above the trees on the opposite bank the full strength of the sun hit me full in the face. Not only that! Reflected by the calm water surface, there was a second beam of golden light, it caught me full in my face as well.

Light on the waterThis was seriously bright light, the light of two suns! The photo doesn't even come close; you can't properly illustrate something like that. (To get a photo at all I had to move to one side and take the picture with the sun filtering through the leaves of the trees to reduce its strength.)

So what did I discover from this experience?

* The first thing I noticed is that when I looked straight at the light I saw... Light! I couldn't see the real sun, nor could I see the sun reflected in the water. They were far too bright. All I could see was the light, not the source of the light.
* Secondly I noticed that although I could see the opposite bank of the river, and some trees, everything was indistinct. Details were difficult to make out in the glare, close to the source of the light it was hard to see anything.
* Thirdly I noticed that when I turned around, the fields and trees illuminated by the light were very distinct and clear. Looking back at the world, back where I'd come from, things were clearly and brightly illuminated. I could see everything!

Do you think this is true of the light from heaven too? I think it is!

The source of the light is the Mighty One himself, who among us can look on him and see his face? Perhaps it's good for us to remember that although we can see the light of his glory, we cannot see any detail; he is too bright for us. He is more wonderful than we can yet understand. Our senses and our imagination are just not up to the job.

Can you imagine a light twice as bright as the sun? A thousand times as bright? A billion times as bright? Neither can I, yet the Almighty is far, far brighter than that!

Do you know what heaven is like? In part, yes, but only in part. You won't have full knowledge in this life, just hints, bits and pieces of information. Do you know what is in another person's mind? Only in part, even if you know someone well there is not complete knowledge. You can't fully know because you can't stand in that friend's place. Neither can you know heaven because you do not stand there, the detail is lost in the glare streaming from the face of the Holy One.

But when I turn around and look at the world, what do I see? I see more clearly now than before I believed. I see more fully than I did a year ago. Why? because I'm learning more and more to see in the light that shines out from heaven. Yahshua said, 'I'm the light of the world'. It's true, seen in his light the details of the world become clear. What was hidden is now plainly visible, what was lost can now be rediscovered, instead of stumbling in the dark we are now able to walk in the light! I was blind, but now I see!

I'm still just beginning to learn to walk in his glorious light. But every day he shows me more precious truths. Praise him! HalleluYah!

Comments copied from the original Chris Jefferies' Blog.
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Comment from: Steph [Member] Email · http://www.es-creative.com
What a peaceful scene.

I'd like to bring a thermos of tea and go for a walk there.

Thanks for the photos! Keep 'em coming!
21/10/04 @ 06:04

Comment from: Steph [Member] Email · http://www.es-creative.com
I keep coming back to this first photo. There is such a sense of peace on it, and in it.

It's edifying just to look at the photograph; I wonder how much more enriching it would be to be stomping up the bank, feeling the cool air of the river on my face?

Isn't it wonderful to enjoy God's great majesty of this creation?

Thank you for taking the time to post it. Not everyone gets to live so near a river and enjoy the natural beauty there.

SB
23/10/04 @ 04:20

Comment from: Kay Harvey [Visitor]
I get everyones koinonialife mail but not long after I registered yahoo began saying my address was not registered though I saw it was and after much confusion I settled for listening, not responding. I was new at the computer and in fear I'd mess up receiving, I left it alone. I read you alot after I finish others for the same reason you told us accidently, what you thought of Jay. I don't have many people left here to the richness of Him that comes from a long walk with Him that is of a similar trail as mine. I notice you notice nature,His awesome thoughts which at 5 years old made me want to find how to talk to Him. My mom didn't know, she said if I did'nt doubt and I realized I did so I left Him in the sky till 15 and He fixed her mistake. I have known Him 36 years now and have a big garden to go escape with Him in. It is spring here in Florence Alabama USA and my roses and amaryilles, and daylillies are comming out, reminders of His awesome thoughts. I thank the Lord for Him in you. In Christ, Kay Harvey
08/05/05 @ 11:55

07 October 2004

Everything I have (KN)

'Everything I have, was given to me.'

This simple line came to me today in an e-mail from a friend. It referred to something quite specific, but it's so true in a general way too.A young plant The more I've thought about it during the day, the more its meaning has become rooted in my heart, like a seed planted there. It seems right to share these thoughts more widely.

When I was first conceived I was no more than a tiny bead of protoplasm carrying a copy of the DNA that spelled my potential. As I grew, the meaning of the code worked out in detail until the day I was born and took my first breath.

We often think of birth as the beginning of life, but by the time I'd taken that first lungful and tested out my new voice with an ear-splitting wail, I'd already received so much.

First, the DNA code itself, donated by my parents but specifying a new, unique creature. And then all that realised potential - a heart that beats, lungs that fill with air, bones and muscles, fingers and toes, and all those amazing internal organs working away to keep me alive and healthy until adulthood. I earned none of these things. They are rich and wonderful gifts bestowed on me even before I was born!

Throughout my life from the morning of my birth to the evening of my old age I'll have received so much. The air I breathe, the water I drink, the food I eat and the clothes that keep me warm, I earned none of these things.Mature growth and abundant flowers I used my gifts of mind and body to 'earn' my way in the world, but I could create nothing without the means to do so, and the means came to me as generous gifts.

It seems to me that I have nothing at all to boast of, and absolutely everything to be grateful for. And look around at the world we inhabit! See the beauty of the sky, sun shining on leaves, the frost on twigs. Smell the fragrant orange blossom, the wonderful aroma of freshly cut grass, or bread straight from the oven. Ah, what a wonderful, wonderful world. And what a wonderful Creator who brought it all into being and planted me here amongst it for a season. I earned none of this!

And friends, family, just a smiling face in the local shop or at the bank, a kind word from someone who cares. Did I earn these blessings? No, I did not. All are gifts.

How true then it is to say...

'Everything I have, was given to me.'

Praise the King of Kings who has blessed me with so much. Honour and glory and power are yours, for ever and ever. Amen.

Comments copied from the original Chris Jefferies' Blog.
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Comment from: Steph [Member] Email · http://www.es-creative.com
Oh yes -- just look around at the world we inhabit; it *is* amazing. Unfortunately, so many of us miss the little joys that are at our fingertips each day. Sometimes a simple glance, lingering on a thing of beauty or taking an extra moment to smile at a passerby is enough to remind us that there is more to this world than what we see, handle and touch. Just a glance can mean so much!

What I especially enjoy is when someone has the gift - an "eye" really -- to capture some of these glorious things and share them with others. Whether it's a melody, a phrase well turned, or a beautiful moment captured by photography. I appreciate these gifts so much. They inspire people like me to look higher, deeper, and live more meaningfully.

Thank you, Chris, for sharing these awesome photographs. I'm in love with this last one of purple heather and a dogwood bending low. At least that's what they look like from this vantage point.
08/10/04 @ 14:29

04 October 2004

Leaves in the autumn (KN)

Autumn is here in Europe. Autumn leavesThe leaves are beginning to change colour and fall from the trees.

Walking across the car park at work this morning I watched the wind pick up some leaves and whisk them along the ground beside me. They looked alive, scurrying and hurrying, almost as if they were on an important errand, or playing a vigorous game.

But of course autumn leaves are not alive! They appeared active only because the wind moved them.

These autumn leaves reminded me that there's a huge, unfathomable gap between human life in the here and now, and the spiritual life we have in the Messiah. Just as a dead leaf is immobile, but a leaf whisked by the breeze is in vigorous motion, so it is for us.

This current existence in which we can so struggle with life and sometimes feel tired, frustrated, and disappointed; is being transformed daily by Yahweh's involvement, through the gift of life in the Son, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

In him we are refreshed and invigorated, as different from our old selves as the wind-borne leaves are from those lying limply on the ground. If we let him change us, we can all become creatures blown by the wind, we can all become active and mobile, like leaves on a mission!

So when you feel dejected or hurt or useless, remember that you are like an autumn leaf. You can achieve nothing on your own for you are lifeless, but if you will let him lift you and carry you along like a leaf in the wind, you will achieve much for he will be the power that moves you!

23 June 2003

Eaton Ford - Reflected in nature

< 4th June 2003 | Index | 15th July 2003 >

This evening we decided, quite spontaneously, to take a walk along the river bank. And although we spent very little time in prayer (after we arrived back from the walk) we saw many things that reminded us of our heavenly Father, and we were encouraged and guided as we thought and talked together along the way. Here are a few of the highlights.

A young frog
Church life seems to go through seasons, just like those of the year. There are times of spring growth when renewed life appears and small, vigorous, green shoots grow towards the light. There are times like summer, when church life is warm and full and blossoms most wonderfully. There are 'autumn' times of fruitfulness and mellowness. And there are wintry times when branches are bare; life is still there but it's not always easy to identify.

We saw white water crashing over the weir in great, glassy curves, then bubbling furiously downstream with dangerous undercurrents to catch the unwary. What power is in the river! It seems to flow slowly, but the weir shows that there's plenty of energy hidden even in the quiet stretches. How like the rivers of living water that flow from the Son through his people! (Jn 4:10, 7:38, Ez 47:9)

We saw terns flying along the river looking for fish, and one dived into the water while we watched. Life is so wonderful, so varied, so graceful, how marvellous is the One who created the universe!

We saw dozens of baby frogs on the footpath, each no larger than a thumbnail. They were wandering about, every one in its own space, not ever seeming to meet although often not far from one another and probably all making similar journeys. Are we like that? Do we also rarely meet, do we each stay in our own space, even though we're on similar journeys?

We felt that it's important for us to see our Father, not in creation (for the maker is not part of what is made), but reflected by it. For we have to use our minds, we must think as well as see if we are to grasp what he is like.

And finally, we remembered again that we're made in his image. He is creative, so are we. He is love, so should we be.

< 4th June 2003 | Index | 15th July 2003 >

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