Children’s Message: Dragon’s Tongue

Megalodon Tooth Fossil

Preparation:

For this particular Children’s Message, I bring a “Megalodon” tooth, which is the tooth of the largest predator that ever lived – a giant shark (possibly the direct ancestor of the modern Great White Shark) that could grow to almost 60 feet in length, and which swam the seas of this world from about 28 million years ago until around 1.5 million years ago.

If you don’t have one, you can easily find photos of them online.  You can also buy them on eBay: depending on size and condition, they go from under $10 to several hundred dollars in price.  You can also find online photos of reconstructions of the Megalodon’s jaws, which are stunningly huge!

 

Scripture Readings:

Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11 (The Revised Common Lectionary readings for The Ascension, focusing particularly on how these two readings are written by the same author, were both addressed to the same audience, and are about the same event, but differ greatly in their portrayal of the Ascension of Christ.)

 

The Point:

We sometimes think of our beliefs as facts; but in reality, facts, and our beliefs about those facts, are not the same thing.  Sometimes, looking at the facts in a new way will change our beliefs, and in doing so open up new vistas of revelation and wonder.

 

Script:

For thousands of years, and even up until the time of the Pilgrims here in America, people would find the bones of weird animals eroding out of rocks and cliffs.  [Did you know that?]

We know them as “fossils;” but back then, they didn’t know what they were.  Since these things were always found embedded in rock, they figured that they were the bones of creatures that grew in rock.  Some of these skeletons had wings, and many of them looked lizard-like, and so it was from these that we get our legends about “dragons.”

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The Invisible Why

imagesMy friend, Pedro S. Silva, recently made an interesting point, which is that Science and Faith both begin from the same place.  They both start with something that is invisible to the naked eye, approachable only through the functioning of the human mind.

In the case of science, all matter and energy begin with subatomic particles, mixtures of quarks and leptons in various configurations: interacting with each other at the behest of forces like gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force.  And yet, none of these elementary particles are seen, heard, tasted or touched.  Instead, we observe their effects on other things, or throw subatomic particles at each other at ridiculously high speeds to see what flies out when they collide.

And we see invisible things in other ways – using telescopes to see the universe as it was back in time, even up to shortly after the “Big Bang.”  Or, assembling myriads of data observations to find patterns that have would otherwise be hidden, patterns which have meaning to us, such as global warming, or economic trends, or opinion polls.  (…If you believe that opinion polls have meaning, which I often do not!)

Science is all about seeing the unseen, employing specific tools to help us see and appreciate things that were previously hidden from us.  Science is a useful tool, one we cannot ignore (even though some try).  Science helps us see clearly where seeing was not possible before.

Faith is no different: like Science, it also makes it possible to find meaning in the unseen.

Like Science, Faith also begins from an invisible place, a place that cannot be directly observed, a place that can be inferred only through its effects upon other things.  Those of us who are people of Faith call that place “God.”

Just like Science, Faith employs various tools to better understand the mystery of that which is invisible to our senses.  We read scriptures. We pray.  We look within ourselves and listen carefully to the unspoken thoughts, feelings and currents we find there.  We observe the world around us and find purpose and meaning in it.

Like Science, Faith sees a bigger pattern than can be discerned with the naked eye by beginning with those things that the naked eye cannot discern at all.  And yet, Faith differs from Science in one crucial aspect.  Science is about finding those patterns.  It is about the How and the Where and the When of things.  It is not about the Why of things.  Faith is about the greater purpose and direction of existence as a whole, and our individual existence.  Science focuses on the mechanics of that existence.

  • Why am I here?
  • Why am I, at all?
  • What purpose is there to my life?
  • What’s the point of life at all?

So, when I see folks dismiss the value Faith for whatever reason, such as because they believe that Science already tells us all about how the universe came to be; I am saddened, for they are not seeing the value of Faith in their lives.  They are confusing Fact with Truth…

Science tells us how the Universe started with nothing and came to be what it is.

Faith tells us why.

Science tells us how the Human body functions, and how various aspects of our environment, or our genes, influence our behavior and the quality of our lives.

Faith tells us why life is worth living.

Science tells us of all the wavelengths of light that are to be found in a rainbow, and can even tell us the chemical composition of the source from which that light came.

Faith tells us the Rainbow is beautiful, and how it is a reflection of God’s love for us.

Science helps us understand the World around us.

Faith helps us find hope within it.

Science tells us What we are.

Faith tells us Who we are.

Embrace both.

Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site).

Evolution vs. Creationism

2hs-2009-05-a-printA thought to consider for today…

There has been a fair amount of discussion in the media in recent days of Creationism vs. Evolution, perhaps sparked by Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) and his recent online debate with Creationist Ken Ham.

My concerns with Creationism are threefold: one scientific and two theological in nature.

The scientific one is simply that Creationism flies in the face of established science, science with a very deep and well supported history of research behind it.  To choose Creationism over Evolution requires rejecting a multitude of well established and well defended facts that are highly supportive of each other, and have shown a massive amount of predictive value in terms of where to look for new revelations of the nature of Creation.  Creationism cannot do this, and also (in effect) requires rejecting the majority of scientific theory and research made over the last 500 years or so, along with the advances that have been made as a result of those theories and research.

For me, Faith is of paramount importance (which is probably obvious, given that I am a minister).  However, Faith must pass the “sniff test” – meaning that it is relevant and meaningful in this world that we live in and know.  Creationism fails that test.  This leads to my two theological concerns, where Creationism fails even more egregiously than it does when portrayed as a scientific theory.

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