science

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.        3 Reasons Christians Cannot Commit the Unforgivable Sin: Michael Bird handles the question of whether Christians can commit the unforgivable sin. 

2.       America's Science-Denying, Antiquated Abortion Law: Ardee Coolidge with a strong opinion on America's abortion law, " [D]espite these amazing advancements in science, technology, and medicine, we lag behind the rest of the developed world in one very important area: our abortion laws. In fact, one key aspect of abortion in the United States is so outdated that only six other nations ON EARTH agree with our position (and one of those nations is the forward-thinking paradise of North Korea)."

3.       Do You Have a Child-Centered Home? This is a helpful questionnaire. 

4.       Don't Compliment by Comparing: Eric Geiger shares three reasons we shouldn't compare when we compliment and then concludes, "Compliment. Be liberal with encouragement. But work hard to offer compliments without comparisons. They are more effective and an indication of your maturing." 

5.       It Turns Out Sexual Liberation Isn't All That Liberating: David French concludes, " Faith and family aren’t guarantors of human flourishing (nothing is), but our nation certainly feels their absence, and our culture aches at their loss."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Do You Treat Church Like a Cruise Ship? Or a Restaurant? Trevin Wax considers just how powerful the consumerist mindset is among American Christians: " The problem with viewing the church as a restaurant is that it amplifies the cruise liner mentality in that the service is all directed one-way. The attender pays with time or money and expects a religious service. This is consumerist, not missional. But the bigger challenge is that the person isn’t even committed to the cruise."

2.     Breaking Down the Living Organisms By Weight: Among the fascinating factoids here are that there are three times more viruses by weight! than human beings.

3.     What is the Rapture? David Chapman concludes that the best interpretation of the "rapture" passage is, " This would imply that, at Christ’s appearance, Paul expects the dead in Christ to be raised, followed by the lifting up of the living believers to welcome Jesus in the air, before Jesus descends to earth with his people in order to judge the world and establish fully his kingdom on earth."

4.     The Seven Bitter Fruits of SinColin Smith considers what happens when we live a life in rejection of God, "What you believe about sin will shape your convictions about missions and evangelism. How we engage in this work, and what we think needs to be done, will in large measure be shaped by what we believe the human problem really is."

5.     Aerial Tucson: I love our city and I love these videos.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Technology is Not a DrugHelpful and level-headed article rebuffing the claims of the addiction of technology. Christopher Ferguson reports, "Anything fun results in an increased dopamine release in the “pleasure circuits” of the brain – whether it’s going for a swim, reading a good book, having a good conversation, eating or having sex. Technology use causes dopamine release similar to other normal, fun activities: about 50 to 100 percent above normal levels. Cocaine, by contrast, increases dopamine 350 percent, and methamphetamine a whopping 1,200 percent. In addition, recent evidence has found significant differences in how dopamine receptors work among people whose computer use has caused problems in their daily lives, compared to substance abusers. But I believe people who claim brain responses to video games and drugs are similar are trying to liken the drip of a faucet to a waterfall."

2.      Jumping the Shark and the Trajectory of Sin: With a surprising analogy, my friend Benjamin Vrbicek argues that sin always makes us a caricature of who we were meant to be, "This is the trajectory of sin. At some point, it jumps the shark. Sin makes people less human and more beast-like." 

3.      Why the Search for a Church to Meet Your Needs is Wasted TimeCarey Nieuwhof asks us to look deeper when we search for a new church, "The problem is deeper, though, than changing churches (as big a decision as that is). It’s about the purpose of the quest. Should the criteria of a church meeting your needs be the reason you change churches? Well, what if the church was never intended to meet your needs? What if the furthest thing from God’s mind when he created the church was to meet your needs?"

4.      Three Types of People Who Hinder the Church: Josh Buice is spot on with his three types. His third is the church hopper: "One of the greatest hindrances to the local church in our day is the church hopper. This individual often engages in meaningful membership from the beginning, but after a period of time (could be months or years), they decide to “change churches.” Like a shooting star, they appear in the life of the church and then vanish away."

5.      How Trees Talk to Each Other: This short video explores the incredible way that trees communicate and help each other out.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Aren't So Different: Following the recent push for Oprah to make a run for President in 2020, Elizabeth Dias reports, “…beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and [Donald] Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016. … Winfrey and Trump both preach a gospel of wealth, health, and self-determination, following in the relatively recent prosperity gospel tradition, which broadly speaking says that God wants people to be wealthy and healthy and that followers are responsible for their own destiny here on Earth.”

2.       The Story You've Been Told About Church and Science is Wrong: The history of pastors is the history of advancing, not hindering scientific inquiry, Jennifer Powell McNutt shares. "Pastors after the scientific revolution viewed engagement with new science as an opportunity to understand God as Creator with greater depth in order to bring him greater glory. And so, the clergy were frequent promoters rather than detractors, enthusiasts and participants rather than fear mongers. Their observations and contributions through publishing, preaching, and their own scientific pursuits helped enable the advancement of modern science in Western communities."

3.       A Reminder of the Danger of Communism: 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, Laura Nicolae reflects on the very present danger of communism: "Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative."

4.       Why is Parenting so Darn Hard? Joe Carter reflects on the six ingredients that make parenting difficult. He ends by comparing us to the disciples: "The disciples, apparently, didn’t have super powers. What they had was access to the Father because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. When they neglected that access they found themselves operating without power in a hostile and unbelieving world. Why is that lesson so very hard for us to learn? I don’t have super powers. I cannot save or sanctify my kids. I cannot teach them out of their sin. I cannot discipline them out of their sin. I cannot scold them out of their sin or shame them out of their sin. I need grace and help from God! I need to get my children before Jesus!"

5.       Our Tiny Star, the Sun: An incredible 90 second video showing just how big our sun is.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       13 Things a Pastor Should Never Tell a Congregation: I've heard at least half of these. And Amen the critique of each one. The first three on Joe McKeever's list: "1. 'I’m thinking of quitting. I haven’t decided. Pray for me.'; 2. 'I’m no theologian.'; 3. 'God told me to tell you … '"

2.       How to Re-Shape Your Conscience: Michael Taylor with sage advice for a reality we all face, " For most of us, the normalization and celebration of sin has become so pervasive in the entertainment we grew up enjoying that it can be difficult for us to discern whether or not God is pleased with our lifestyle. There is often a cognitive dissonance between what we believe about God and his law and how we live. So, how are Christians meant to navigate this complicated issue?"

3.       What is Reformed Theology?: Benjamin Vrbicek answers this question by focusing both on the historic and theological components: "When we seek God through Scripture and church dogma, we can be made right with God only through Christ, his mother, priests, and saints, by trusting in God’s grace and the sacraments, as long as we do enough good works alongside our faith.”

4.       A Visual Representation of Just How Split Our Politics Have Become: There truly is no middle ground any longer. And both parties have reduced their platforms to a particular set of issues. " The data viz designer Mike Cisneros has mapped out the political positions of every member of Congress ever, starting with the first Congress in 1789 up until the 115th Congress that’s currently filling the news cycle with so much anguish. The central visualization is a giant scatterplot, where positions are mapped based on how conservative or liberal each Congress member is economically and socially."

5.       Carnival Scam Science: This really fun video tells you the science behind what you already know: carnival games are rigged against you.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations
  1. The 15th Most Influential Websites: Time honors the web's 27th birthday with this interesting list. I guarantee you haven't heard of a couple of these at least and The Drudge Report at #8 surprised me, but considering the imprint it has had on the bent of politics and today's news, I understand why.

  2. The Christianphobia of the Rich: Gene Veith reflects on the recent report that the demography of those who hold an anti-Christian bias is shifting, "Hostility against Christians among the general public has not increased over the last three decades. But who has hostility against Christians has changed. Today more anti-Christian bias is coming from the rich... Here is the profile of those who tend to be hostile to Christianity: white, male, politically progressive, irreligious, and wealthy... Do you see an exquisite irony here? “The rich” are the bête noir (the dark beast) of progressives. Add “white” and “male” and you have the ultimate villain, the cause of all our woes. It would seem that some of the biggest critics of rich white males are rich white males."

  3. Friendship is Not a Two-Way Street: Kim Barnes shares an important truth in the context of community, "When my husband was in seminary, he did a summer internship at a church in Bradenton, Florida. The young pastor and his wife were very encouraging to us and gave us some great marriage advice: “Remember that marriage is never 50/50. It’s always 90/10. Sometimes you’re the 90. Sometimes you’re the 10.” It turns out this isn’t only good marriage advice, but applies just as well to friendship."

  4. The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes: Zan Romanoff reports on the growing trend of gyms replacing church, "Exercise classes often function just as much like a church as they do like a gym: They gather people into a community, and give them a ritual to perform... You know who will be leading the evening; you can anticipate the general contours of its energy. You know you will recognize familiar faces among the participating crowd. As more Americans have moved away from organized religion (a 2015 Pew Center study found that 23 percent of the adult population identified as “religiously unaffiliated,” up from 16 percent in 2007) they have also moved toward new forms of community building, as well as new ways to seek mental clarity and spiritual experiences. The gym is a popular avenue for this kind of searching, in part because it mimics the form of traditional religious services."

  5. The Best Science Pictures of 2017: once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse, a hitch hiking octopus, and a creature that will give you nightmares.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.    The Respectable Idol of Work: I identify with Kathryn Butler’s story of her safe idol of workaholism, “After the accident, colleagues and mentors applauded me as altruistic, selfless, and committed. They nicknamed me “Mighty Mouse.” Around corners, I overheard fellow residents remark about my dedication and strength. Overnight, I transformed from an insecure trainee who endlessly fumbled to the one whose allegiance to the job superseded concerns for herself. To someone scrambling for worth in the dark, the accolades were intoxicating.”

2.    10 Things Your Pastor Needs You to Be: Tim Stevens with a great list. A few of the great points on his list: 1. A Momentum-Increaser; 3. A Silo-Destroyer; 6. An Innovative-Thinker; 8. An Integrity Keeper; 10. A Lifelong Learner.

3.    The Scripture-Alone Life: What does the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura (Scripture Alone) have to do with my life? Steve DeWitt shares, “God’s Word over us is the final authority. God’s Word under us is the foundation of promises. For either of these to be effective, we must have God’s Word in us.”

4.      10 Things You Should Know About Temptation: This is a long and helpful post both theologically and practically. A few of the gems Sam Storms offers, "Temptation is often strong because it comes in the form of an enticement to satisfy legitimate needs through illegitimate means." " Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent. 'An unguarded strength,' said Oswald Chambers, 'is a double weakness.'" " Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey." 

5.      Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost: Last week we reflected on the 45 years that have passed since Roe v. Wade. Emma Green gives us reason for encouragement, "These advances fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status."

6.    When You Celebrate Too Early: This soccer goalie will never forget that crucial lesson after his horrible-no-good-very-bad play.