Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Great Expectations'

‘Great Expectations’ is one of those novels that one is supposed to have read when at school, but if I did read it I cannot recollect doing so. Charles Dickens wrote of his contemporaneous conditions when social position due to inheritance and class fractured society. Snobbery, status and ignorance played their part. Back in the mid-nineteenth century there was little hope of any expectation of moving up the social ladder. Pip, the main character of the story was an orphan. He had a crush on Estella who was the adopted daughter of the wealthy Miss Havisham who hired Pip as a companion to Estella. Pip’s infatuation for Estella developed into a one-sided relationship of un-requited love, but Pip had high hopes that he may win her heart when he inherited money that enabled him to learn and acquire the ways of a gentleman.

Dickens wrote two endings to the novel; one gave little hope that Estella and Pip would ever be united in love, but the other hinted that there could be a glimmer of hope. Could that unsatisfactory situation ever have been yours; not necessarily the example of unrequited and unfulfilled love, but of expectations that were never realised? I would suggest that the common experience of us all is that we have expectations that are never realised, but without the hope of expectations we would lose much our motivation in life.

As a Christian I have a great hope and expectation that one day I’ll meet my Lord face to face and that I will be privileged to see Him and reflect His glory. On a lower plane I experience the everyday humdrum of activity just as those who have no expectation of Christ. On that same level I place my expectations of again owning a sailing boat, and to that end I have been searching for a suitable vessel, but you can’t imagine the lies and deceit I’ve encountered along the way. These same blatant deceptions of descriptions of craft for sale have led me to spend hours travelling by road with ‘Great Expectations’, only to find boats described as beautifully fitted, seaworthy and ready for sea, being nothing but leaking, stinking wrecks! The foolishness of advertising such vessels in glowing terms rebounds on the perpetrators; not only do they waste their time, but they callously cause disappointment to those who seek their ideal.

Despite my expectations being dashed over and again, I am a fool for yet another expectation that will be fulfilled to my satisfaction. What is it that drives me on in this way? The answer is that I have an unquenchable desire for a new relationship with a mistress of the sea.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Personal View of Evolution

The Darwin ‘Big Idea’ Exhibition at the Natural History Museum commemorating the findings of Charles Darwin when he sailed on HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836 will close on 19th April 09. As a result of Darwin’s observations, particularly those on the Galapagos Islands, he formulated a theory that species evolved by the process of natural selection. Some years later, Alfred Russel Wallace independently expressed an almost identical view to that of Darwin, which spurred the latter on to publish, ‘On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection’. In the 6th edition of the book, published in1872, the title was changed to ‘The Origin of the Species’. The book propounded the theory that species populations evolve over generations through a process of natural selection. As a result of the book, which would seem to undermine the teaching of the Bible that God created the world in 6 days, there have been many objections to his thesis by Christians.

A modern protagonist supporting the theory put forward by Darwin is David Attenborough. Last night on BBC 1 TV, in a film called, ‘The Tree of Life’, he bluntly presented a case against the biblical account of the creation of the universe. He did not explain how matter came into being, perhaps by using another theory, that of the Big Bang, but started his thesis with the assumption that there was a primeval mass from which primitive creatures emerged who evolved into more complicated forms eventually becoming distinct species, which in turn evolved into other species. (The word ‘evolve’ means to develop gradually into more complex forms.)

The Bible affirms that God made creatures of various ‘kinds’ as noted in the account of the animals entering the Ark prior to the global flood - birds after their kind, animals after their kind, and every creeping thing of the earth after its kind. (Genesis 6:19-21) Likewise the Word of God states that God created seed-yielding grasses, herbs, and fruit trees according to their kinds. (Genesis 1:11-13) In biblical terms a ‘kind’ or ‘type’ is a particular species; for example the cat type, the dog type, the horse type, the elephant type, the grass type, the tree type or the fish type. None of them are capable of reproducing themselves except through their own kind. David Attenborough’s ‘theory’, which he proclaims as ‘fact’, purports that species can evolve into other identifiable species. The truth of this concept is essential if his theory is to hold water and indeed be fact. We therefore have the possibility of something like worms eventually changing into a zebras, over millions of years, but from the foregoing argument it can be seen that different ‘kinds’ are unable to naturally propagate with other ‘kinds’, which leaves the only alternative whereby change can come about, that is by mutation. Mutated genes can be inherited by subsequent generations, but the basic gene structure remains unaltered so that its ‘type’ or ‘kind’ does not change. Yes, it is true that by man’s intervention a process of selective breeding can bring about changes to a species, but the process cannot change that species into a different one. Man can also do what would be impossible for nature on its own to accomplish by inserting genes from an animal species into a vegetable species and visa versa. Genetic engineering is on the cards today.

By comparison with man’s puny efforts at playing with nature, would it be beyond the wit of a Creator God to create creatures able to adapt to gradually changing situations such as climatic change which brings about different ecosystems? Obviously, it would not. Would it be possible for a Creator God to create ‘types’ with similarities such as gene characteristics? Obviously, it would. Therefore the Christian has no conflict with the scientific proof that identical and similar genes can be found in different species. When David A claims that certain intermediary creatures as identified in fossil forms make the missing link between species, could it not be that God created those so-called living forms, they themselves being species or kinds? He believes that strata of the earth’s surface came about over countless millions of years and that fossils formed at various depths within the strata indicate when the creatures lived. In order to establish when strata was formed he relies heavily upon the flawed science of carbon dating. This science has by no means been proven reliable because there are many geologists who by their research prove shortcomings and inconsistencies of the process. You need only do a Google search to substantiate this.

David Attenborough’s trump card would seem to be that some identical genes can be found common to Homo sapiens and apes - for him this clinches the deal that he is related to an ape, that his ancestors were indeed apes; likewise he would have it that all human beings have evolved from a common apelike species. Again, I ask the question, “Is it not possible that a Creator God who formed the universe, could He not also make the man Adam from ‘the dust of the ground’ (Genesis 2:7) and his companion from the rib of Adam?” (Genesis 2:22) A chemical analysis of the materials from which a man’s physical body is made would reveal that it is composed mostly of those same elements that are found in the dust of the earth.

Except for life and death, nothing is certain, apart from revelation by the infinite God. It is He who gives the gift of life (Ephesians 2:8) and it He who has the power to take it away at any time. (Deuteronomy 30:15; 1 Samuel 2:6) The Lord gives and He takes away.

David concludes that he cannot conceive of a loving God who would create a worm that bores into a human’s eye because this is the only means for its survival. The balance of the equation which he cannot comprehend is that God gave His only Son to die on a cross as a sufficient sacrifice for the eternal salvation many. (John 3:16)

Link to the ‘Big Idea’ Exhibition: