This past week has been an amusing, troubling, profound and unusual one. If that sounds like too much to pack into a single week to you, then you are not alone. I got an enormous chuckle out of innaguration day. It isn’t every day you hear a historic oath flubbed by two men to the point that they later redo it in private. And then President Obama gets even more entertaining by asking his White House council what his executive orders mean. Call me silly, but I would hope that a President who used to “teach” Constitutional law and bragged about it, should be able to right an executive order and know what it says. Maybe I am expecting too much. If that had been the last president, the late night comedians would still be lampooning it four years from now.
Troubling came in the form of Obama doing many of the things he said he would do, like closing Gitmo (although darkly amusing to see former Gitmo detainees pop up in videos for Al Qaeda right on the heels of the announcement). Plus there were the expected vacillations in some of the prayers uttered during the week at various festivities. I took part in one of the discussions over at the InternetMonk site on that topic and it was certainly interesting.
And you want profound? New Scientist provided an earthshattering, science-buckling doozy of a story last week. It turns out that Darwin’s tree (the one he based his evolutionary methods on) is dying a slow death because it isn’t “fit enough” to survive. I read the article forward and backward and was amazed at the candor it contained. Basically, Darwin’s main premise regard the “tree of living things” is flawed:
The problems began in the early 1990s when it became possible to sequence actual bacterial and archaeal genes rather than just RNA. Everybody expected these DNA sequences to confirm the RNA tree, and sometimes they did but, crucially, sometimes they did not. RNA, for example, might suggest that species A was more closely related to species B than species C, but a tree made from DNA would suggest the reverse.
Which was correct? Paradoxically, both – but only if the main premise underpinning Darwin’s tree was incorrect. Darwin assumed that descent was exclusively “vertical”, with organisms passing traits down to their offspring. But what if species also routinely swapped genetic material with other species, or hybridised with them? Then that neat branching pattern would quickly degenerate into an impenetrable thicket of interrelatedness, with species being closely related in some respects but not others.
Check out the full article for the complete details, but if you want a really good laugh, check what happened at Vox Day’s blog when he posted the issue for discussion. It led to speculation of “Dark Life” for biology, like dark matter that physicists have speculated about to fill in their gaps in accuracy. Frankly, I have been having a good laugh or two at every turn it seems. It isn’t always this funny, but life just seems a little weirder these days.
The capper is the reason for the getting out of the way in the title. I am always learning and growing, (that’s the goal anyway) and in preaching my way through Romans these past couple of months, God has shown me a few things along the way. I am determined to dig a little deeper and learn a little more from this book. Today I preached from Romans 14 and I was struck with the power of this chapter. I told the congregation at one point that if all Christians could truly embrace this chapter, we would have no denominations. You may think that is a bold statement, but if you look at Romans 14 and dig into what Paul is saying there, I think you will agree. More often than not, we turn “disputable matters” or “Biblical opinions” into life or death, true believer or heretic type distinctions. I say we, because I am as guilty if not more guilty of this than most people. I am trying to learn the fine art of getting out of the way when the issue simply isn’t worth fighting over. It’s a tough battle for me, since it goes against my normal nature. But Lord willing, I am getting better day by day.