Archive for March, 2011

Once again, I’ve found myself with about 20 minutes until class starts and a thought I can’t get off my mind…

Don’t you just love watching somebody geek about about something? Math professors seem particularly prone to this seemingly unprovoked ranting about the glories of a mathematically concept. In ninth grade, I had a the most enthusiastic teacher I’ve ever had teach me geometry, and it was one of the most enjoyable classes I ever took. Most people proofs and theorems, but to Mrs. Styker, proving the Pythagorean Theorem seemed to hold more excitement than opening presents on Christmas morning. For 5 of my math classes in college (Trigonometry, Precalc, Calculus I & II, and Discrete Structures), I had a professor named Chris Jones who explained things more clearly and was more helpful than almost any other teacher I’ve ever had. Once again, he was known to rant about the beauty of mathematical order and the ways you can manipulate values to get what you’re looking for. He was even known to describe mathematical concepts as “sexy” (as in, “…and that’s how you can use the integrals of two functions to find the area bounded by a curve. That’s sexy.”).

I’ve been known to geek out about all kinds of topics: drumming, computers, English grammar, language, etc. We consider it to be geeking out when somebody gets more excited about something than seems appropriate given the topic. For example, we all use computers, but to get excited and discuss processors and memory seems geeky to most. However, I think that getting excited about some field that someone has learned a lot about brings glory to God. In the example of math teachers, God created the world in an ordered, reasonable way such that mathematical concepts can be applied to figure out and predict how things work. Excitement about those universal rules seems to be a manifestation of a greater appreciation for God’s order than most people have, and thus I believe it is because we are in the image of God that we find beauty in that (some more than others). I think it is beautiful that God creates us all with different interests, as I believe it shows we all have varying levels of appreciation for the way God has created his universe.

I’ll probably expand on this later, but that’s all for now. Keep geekin’ out to the glory of God!

God’s Time

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Toward the beginning of the semester, an older man in my church told me he remembered I was looking for something useful to listen to while I commute back and forth 45 minutes each way to UMBC. He told me that Wayne Grudem had his Systematic Theology in podcast form from a long series of lectures he gave awhile back. I’m so thankful for the recommendation, and am enjoying growing in my knowledge of God’s character and his Word during an otherwise unprofitable hour and a half.

So when I was listening the other day, Grudem had a guest speaker talk on the topic of time: what it is, how it works, whether it is quantifiable, etc. The man was a Ph.D. in physics who actually wrote an amendment to Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, so suffice it to say a good bit of the lecture went over my head. What I did grasp of it, however, I simply can’t stop pondering. He started off with a short crash course in Physics that took me back a few years to Senior year of high school, remembering the days of solving dreaded momentum and velocity equations (at least it wasn’t as bad as Chemistry!). Starting off, he talked about relative motion and how a motion can be perceived with equal validity from different perspectives and get different values. For example, think of a person who is moving 30 miles per hour in a car looks who looks at a person driving a car 50 miles per hour in the same direction. The first person who is moving 30 mph would see the person who is moving 50 mph and see him moving at 20 mph because of relativity (50 – 30 = 20 instead of 50 – 0). However, according to Newton’s Laws, there is no absolute rest because any point of reference in considering motion is equally valid.

Now, if I haven’t lost you already, let’s try to take this approach to measuring the speed of light (186,000 mi/sec). Consider measuring the speed of light from earth and from a rocket ship traveling 93,000 mi/sec relative to earth. If the same rules apply from the car example, we would think that the rocket would measure a different speed than we would get on earth. The odd thing is, the measurement remains 186,000 mi/sec no matter what frame of reference we measure from. Weirdly enough, a person in that rocket actually experiences a different time than a person on earth. And on earth, two events could appear simultaneous on earth, but moving in space a person would see it at a different time. In other words, time, like motion, is actually relative! According to everyone on the earth, time is perceived the same way. One hour is one hour, one month is one month, whether you’re in Baltimore of Beijing, right? But what seems like the most constant thing we experience (and indeed even among physicists is the most accurate constant they have) is actually a relative dimension in the space-time continuum. How mind-blowing! God’s creativity is amazing!

One other notable concept from the lecture was that Newton’s Second Law of Entropy actually points to a created origin. You see, the Law of Entropy says that matter goes from order to disorder. Basically, matter is always deteriorating and breaking down, not improving. This contradicts the theory of everything developing from some blob of matter into a complexly structured universe.

Anyways, it’s 2:00 a.m. now and I should probably get some sleep since I have to get up somewhat early tomorrow, but I hope this made some sense. And if it did, I hope it also increases your appreciation of the awesome, creative power of God!

To listen to the full podcast, follow this link and look at #31: What is Time?
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wayne-grudems-systematic-theology/id322844869