The Trouble With Time

The concept of time has been a point of contention between philosophers and scientists for thousands of years. To this day many different ideas about the nature of time exist.

Sir Isaac Newton believed that time was a fundamental structure of the universe. This realist view postulates that time is a real thing that people and events move through.

Immanual Kant argued that time is a mental framework which allows us to experience, rather than a real thing. It is a means for us to organize and understand the world, much like language.

Einstein developed the idea that time is dependent on the spatial reference of the observer. It is this theory which opens the door for ideas like time travel or relativistic travel (theories that we utilize in the book).

I believe that all of these ideas are partially true. And in the book we use these different definitions of time in order to explain some of the ways in which science and religion both fail to see the bigger picture.

Here is an example:

Monotheists are adamant in arguing that God created the earth in six literal days. Scientists are equally adamant, although much less exact, in arguing that  it had to take billions of years for the earth to form. This is because both sides are choosing to define time in a very Newtonian way (which is ironic since monotheists believe that God is omnipresent and most scientists embrace the theory of relativity).

While I might not be able to perceive time in anything but a realist view, except perhaps philosophically, I am rational enough to understand that my perception is limited. I can conceive that if there is an all powerful deity, he might not be subject to time the same way that I am.

Here is an example from the book:
A deep voice interrupted his thoughts. A word rang out in the stillness. He did not recognize the word, but he somehow knew it. It was the word. The word of initiation that gave life. He couldn’t repeat it. As soon as it was spoken he could no longer hear it, but he saw it begin.

The great orb suddenly exploded in a dazzling display of light. The giant ball of gas became instantly alive with life-giving energy and heat. The immense glowing globe drifted off to the side and Ariel could see, in the newly brightened space, a much smaller sphere approaching. How was he seeing Gaia?

A voice answered inside of this own head.

‘You must understand that here and there do no exist for us. We are where we are and now we are creating a new world, a world that you helped prepare. You did well. This is a special creation. One that has been planned for a millennium and will be the site of a great and terrible chapter in the history of the Kingdom. In time the entire universe will come to realize that this creation marks a pivotal turning point. Many will be tempted to doubt the wisdom of this creation, but I ask you to have faith that it is for the greater good that we gather here today.’

What did this mean? How could this creation be both great and terrible? He was so excited to be witnessing this and so confused by what he was seeing and hearing. There was no here or there? What did that mean? Again the voice answered him inside his own head.

‘Some things you are unable to understand, but your faith is strong. We would ask that you continue to believe. We are not restricted by space and time the way that the created are. While you are here, in the throne room with us, these things do not apply to you either. You are literally in that small solar system in the Milky Way, but you are also here, securely seated in Mount Kol. You are going to witness a process that requires a week, but to you it will seem like minutes have passed. The word of creation has been spoken and that single word spawns all of creation, but we will try to explain it to you as we go.’

 

This scene comes from our conception of Gaia’s creation. We hope that it gives you an alternative way to consider some of the issues that science and religion fail to find common ground on.

Ink on the Skin, Ink on the Page

When I was 21, I decided to get a tattoo. It was 1991 and I was a third year freshman in college. You might recognize this image as the logo for Led Zeppelin’s record label, Swan Song.

After 21 years I still love the music of Zeppelin and I still kind of like my tattoo. Through the years it has meant many different things to me.

 

In my twenties, it was an homage to my favorite band. Like many young people, I used music as a means to craft a sense of identity. Metallica, Guns n Roses, Rage Against the Machine- my musical influences reflected my lifestyle- fast and hard.

 

Later, after finishing graduate school and beginning my professional career, it reminded me of Icarus, the mythological character who flew too close to the sun with wax wings. He fell into the sea and drowned. This tattoo gave me a warning about the dangers of blind ambition and excessive pride. I chose to ignore the warning.

 

In my mid-thirties, I had the first of two children and this tattoo became the good angel, sitting on my shoulder, reminding me of the necessity of making the right choices. Or at least that was the intent. Given the choices that I made, perhaps it was a fallen angel, tempting me to do things that caused me to fail. My divorce would seem to argue for that interpretation.

 

Through the years I have often been asked if the angel was flying upward or falling downward. My answer is YES. It depends upon your interpretation.

Today, this slightly blurring, subcutaneous ink is a reality check. It is a reminder of the war that is going on between good and evil every day. It is a reminder that we live among the fallen, but we have a way out. My tattoo is Gadreel, or Ariel. You will have to read the book to decide which one.

God of Science

Religion that dismisses science lacks credibility. Science that dismisses religion lacks context.  This week the Dalai Lama hosted the 26th Mind and Life Conference in the hopes of improving the discourse between the religious and scientific communities.

This is, unfortunately, all too rare in the world these day, particularly in the west. Where buddhist monks have learned to educate themselves and engage with the scientific community, too many priests and pastors seem strangely dismissive of much that science has to say.

And western scientists seem to take some sort of repugnant pleasure in an institutionalized condescension toward all things religious.

I believe that often both sides fail to look for common ground and shortchange their respective causes in the process.

Tail of the Dragon is a very theistic enterprise. The book’s premise is that there is a God, who created all. But that God is a God of science. We do not dismiss concepts such as the big bang or evolutionary cosmology. We attempt to show how it is possible that the material that the earth is composed of could, in fact, be billions of years old, and could also have been formed by the word of God in six literal days.

Here is a quote from chapter one:

Creation itself was a perpetual condition, a never-ending ripple emanating from the utterance. The Kings spoke existence, and from that point of entry a continual well of creative force sprang. But that ongoing creative force differed from the initial creative act. That beginning came directly from the source, and it was Hasdiel’s job to detail that initiation.  Today, instead of a new galaxy, with its innumerable worlds and species, new fellow arella would be created.  Arella, as celestial beings and the direct servants of the Kings, were always prime creations, derived directly from the utterance.

I believe that I am a creation of God, but not directly. I am not a prime creation. God did not speak me into existence. Rather, he created the species that I have descended, and evolved, within. I was born through procreation. I have the color eyes, skin, hair, etc. that my adaptive genes have inherited. I don’t believe that I descended from an ape, but I do recognize that both species were created using very similar materials and genetic maps.

The book’s premise is that God initiated our species with an act of direct creation. From that direct creation, the species has continued recreating itself, adapting and adjusting as needed. God built in the genetic flexibility to allow us to adapt, because God is a God of science and uses scientific processes to accomplish his goals.

Much of what the church once taught is now thought of, even within the church, as superstitious nonsense (remember Galileo). And science understands far less than it tries to pretend (remember gravity). Until both sides forgo their arrogance and realize that we are infinity tiny creatures trying to comprehend a vast universe, both will lose the opportunity to learn from the other.

119,677 Words- For What????

I remember asking my sixth grade teacher, at the Christian school that I was attending, why God would put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? My reasoning was that it was unfair for God to create these inexperienced beings, artificially insert this random prohibition, then place a demonic, and infinitely more sophisticated, tempter in the garden with them.

I was unsatisfied with the answer.

That is one of the questions that we bring up in the book. We bring up these questions not to provide an answer, but rather, to provide a fresh perspective to approach the issues from.

I would guess that many might take issue with our use of the two trees placed in the garden as a gateway for interstellar travel, but I would hope that by coming up with an alternative way of looking at the problem, you, at least, wrestle with the issue, and hopefully draw your own conclusions.

Book One- Done! Now What?

She carefully carried the urn up the treacherous trail toward the overlook.
 
Months ago I wrote that line, the first of Tail of the Dragon. Now, the book is complete, has been published, and is available on Amazon. I have a box of paperbacks with a cover that I designed. It envelops words that were composed by my brother and myself. It is a pretty cool feeling.
 
And yet now I am confronted by the daunting task of getting people to read it. How do you get people to invest their time and thought into something that you created? That is a question that I will wrestle with in the months to come, but I believe that it is worth the effort.
 
Why?
 
Because I believe that this book (and series) does more than just tell a story. I believe that it wrestles with truths that most of us living in modernity no longer struggle with. I believe that it begs questions that we have stopped asking.
 
Philip Yancey and Dr. Phillip Brand wrote a book called ‘The Gift of Pain.’ It details Dr. Brand’s experience working with leprosy patients, who lose their sense of pain. This desensitization causes them to injure themselves repeatedly, without realizing it. They begin to destroy parts of their bodies because they have no warning system telling them what they are doing.
 
Sometimes when I watch people stumbling around, staring at their smart phones, I wonder if we have become mental lepers, walking across hot coals, oblivious. Writing this book has rekindled some of the awareness that I had lost. My hope is that it does the same for others.