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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

I Am Legend 2?

If you seen the movie I Am Legend, you’ll remember the opening scene of the movie with a news reporter interviewing a scientist who has discovered a cure for cancer. The opening dialog goes like this:

TV Personality: The world of medicine has seen its share of miracle cures, from the polio vaccine to heart transplants. But all past achievements may pale in comparison to the work of Dr. Alice Krippin. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Not at all.
TV Personality: So, Dr. Krippin, give it to me in a nutshell.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Well, the premise is quite simple – um, take something designed by nature and reprogram it to make it work for the body rather than against it.
TV Personality: You’re talking about a virus?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Indeed, yes. In this case the measles, um, virus which has been engineered at a genetic level to be helpful rather than harmful. Um, I find the best way to describe it is if you can… if you can imagine your body as a highway, and you picture the virus as a very fast car, um, being driven by a very bad man. Imagine the damage that car can cause. Then if you replace that man with a cop… the picture changes. And that’s essentially what we’ve done.
TV Personality: And how many people have you treated so far?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Well, we’ve had ten thousand and nine clinical trials in humans so far.
TV Personality: And how many are cancer-free?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Ten thousand and nine.
TV Personality: So you have actually cured cancer.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Yes, yes… yes, we have.
[cuts to post-apocalyptic New York three years later]

This morning I found this article that describes a process not unlike the movie. Instead of a virus, they’ve enlisted what’s called programmed cell death. The idea is to train cells that naturally kill themselves to kill cancer cells.

When I read the article I kept wondering, is this real? And what are the potential possibilities for this to turn into a nightmare, a la I Am Legend?

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Scot McKnight recently discussed the concepts of intelligent design and the arguments for the existence of God. And his post got me thinking what it must feel like, from God’s perspective, to have people argue over His existence.

I can imagine God sitting back and saying, “I’m right here…in the butterfly and the oak tree. I’m right here…in the homeless man and the doctor. I’m right here…in the college student who gives up a career on Wall Street to feed the poor in Darfur. I’m right here…in the little boy who gives up his lunch money so his neighbor can eat. I’m right here…in the wind and the rain that always comes.  I’m right here…if you believe.

And this train of thought made me wonder if God doesn’t want to be stuck in a petri dish, pushed and prodded and proved? What if God simply refuses to play our game. The God of Scripture I see refuses to answer the requests of the people to perform on demand. In fact, he makes it virtually impossible to actually prove his existence, instead asking for faith that leads to this strange experience of the divine. We think He’s there yet wonder if it is real. We feels His love and then watch it disappear the next day when we lose our jobs. He doesn’t show up the way we want him to, instead revealing himself as he sees fit. And maybe that’s the way we need it.

And then I began to wonder what it would look like if I could actually prove He exists. What would it mean if I could perform some experiment that would undoubtedly prove God existed? Would I need him anymore? Would I somehow think I was now in control because I had figured God out? And would I use that against people for control, demanding that they bow to the God of the universe?

And if this is true, the call to faith becomes much clearer. The call to faith is actually for my good. It’s God refusing to give me the control I can’t really handle.

Interesting in your thoughts on this.

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Newton’s third law of motion is, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” And over the last thirty years we’ve seen a distinct change in culture from a modern to a postmodern society. And after watching Jill Bolte Taylor I began to really wonder if this is a shift in culture from right brain to left brain.

Jill describes the two halves of the brain in very distinct terms. Physically the are independent of each other and are connected by a thin white matter called the corpus callosum. She describes the two halves by saying, “they think about different things, they care about different things, and dare I say they have very different personalities.” This sounds like the culture issues with the traditional church and the emerging church to me.

The right brain:

  • functions like a parallel processor
  • this present moment.
  • right here/right now
  • thinks in pictures
  • learns kinesthetically through movement of our bodies
  • information through sensory input and explodes in a collage of information
  • connected to others

The left brain:

  • functions like a serial processor
  • think linearly
  • methodically
  • about the past and future
  • take the collage of the present moment and picks out details and more details
  • take this information and projects into the future and projects possibilities
  • thinks in language
  • connects internal world to external world
  • the calculating intelligence.
  • The little voice that says, I am, separate from others.

After reading Tony’s book, I realize that much of the threads that show up in modernity are left brain oriented. And the threads that show up in postmodernity are right brain oriented. Modernity is interested in facts and figures, charts and graphs. Modernity is the PC guy from the Apple commercials. Postmodernity is the righ brain interested in images and colors, the present moment when we’re having coffee. Postmodernity is the Mac guy in the Apple commercials.

But what is the most interesting to me is that the right brain is about connectivity and relationships. What draws us together, not divides us. And much of the postmodernity movement/era I think is a response to the long drawn out centuries of living exclusively in the left brain world that can’t operate in relationships.

Must of what Jesus did was about restoring relationships, especially us to the Father so we could discover the power of the Holy Spirit. I for one think that this can only come from the right brain that draws us together.

PS: After seeing Jill, I realized why I gravitate towards the postmodern emerging church conversation. I’m right brain. You can test yourself here.

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The following video is a must watch. It provides an intriguing understanding into how our brain processes information. (I’m a recovering left brain addict.) But it also deals deeply with the connection of the brain to the soul.

“Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.”

And please, as you watch it, push aside any desire to judge the enlightened spiritual aspects that may be triggered and realize that Jill is first a human experiencing this. My favorite quote is:

“In that moment I knew I was no longer the choreographer of my life.”

You can watch this complete video at TED.

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