One Quadrillion Synapses
I came across an interesting factoid today as I was researching for my next book.
The human body has approximately 100,000,000 (one hundred million) sensory receptors that enable us to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. And that is a testament to our Divine Designer. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. By the way, when was the last time you thanked God for each of your senses? We have seven million cones that enable us to perceive about ten million different colors. Doesn’t it seem like we owe God seven million thank yous?
Now here is what I found fascinating: neurologists estimate that the average three-year old has 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) synaptic connections.
Honestly, those numbers numb us. But I think they reveal something significant. Our ability to imagine things in our mind is far greater than our ability to interpret physical reality. Mathematically speaking, imagination is ten million times more powerful than our five senses put together!
Naturalism is living down to the limit of our one hundred million sensory receptions. It is the inability or unwillingness to perceive reality that is beyond our five senses. The end result? Our universes shrinks to the size of our senses.
Faith is living beyond our five senses. It is being certain of what we do not see. One dimension of faith is imagining what our five senses can’t perceive or confirm. It is extra-sensory perception. And that is why faith often seems like it is out of touch with reality. But that is because it is ten million times more powerful than our senses!
One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20. It is actually our most-used benediction at National Community Church.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and throughout all generations for ever and ever, Amen.
Translation? God is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine with our one quadrillion synapses. Amazing isn’t it? Our imagination is ten million times more powerful than our five senses. But God is still able to do infinitely more than anything any of us can imagine with our one quadrillion synaptic connections. And to top it off, no mind has conceived of what God has prepared for us!
March 15, 2016
July 27, 2015
Several years ago I was made aware of First Century Foundations, the ministry of Joe Amaral. Joe and his wife Karen are based in Canada; their ministry is very similar to that of America’s Ray Vander Laan. Both are committed to help people see the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus in the context that his Jewish audience would have seen, heard and understood them. Although I had some early exposure to Ray, it has been Joe’s teachings which most recently have helped me learn more of this type of content, which truly makes the Gospels come alive. In addition to books such as Understanding Jesus and What Would Jesus Read? they lead tour groups to Israel on a regular basis.
So it seemed only fitting that the man who has helped so many see so much of what we miss in our hurried scripture readings wearing Western-mindset glasses should turn his attention to the many astronomical references in the scripture which can be equally overlooked. (Perhaps it was the natural next step, since Joe takes his telescope everywhere.)
“Can you direct the movement of the stars–binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion?
-Job 31:31 NLT
He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The LORD is His name.
-Amos 4:8 NASB
Story in the Stars is a DVD/BluRay combination which does leave you scratching your head in wonder at the detail that we’ve missed. Even the twelve signs of the zodiac, which is anathema in conservative Evangelical quarters, are rich in relevance when interpreted through a Biblical lens.
But the real payoff in this 41-minute documentary is a section at the end which gets into signs occurring in the heavens relevant to Jesus’ birth — a better understanding of what drew the Magi to the Bethlehem stable — as well as his crucifixion, resurrection and second coming. Having been in the audience for several Story in the Stars live presentations, I can say that this video only begins to whet your appetite for this topic, and as I said above, it serves to warm you toward an area that has been off limits for many church people. Perhaps it’s the similarity of the word astronomy to the word astrology that throws Christians off the trail.
Story in the Stars is available for purchase or download at StoryInTheStars.com and at Christian Bookstores who can order copies through Elevate Entertainment via Send the Light Distribution. It’s a great introduction to a topic that many of us might never have considered. A companion coffee-table book is also available; and even though it’s not about astrology, the move or the book make a gift and conversation-starter for someone who has that passion.
July 21, 2015
After the huge success of The Shack, many publishers were after Paul Young’s third novel, Eve. When first released, The Shack was a game-changer for Christian publishing, its commercial success rivaled only by the controversy it created, with many of the negative responses coming from people who had never read the book. It also was put in the rare situation of having various other books written about it.
Radio host Drew Marshall once quipped, “There are two kinds of people; people who like The Shack, and people who don’t like The Shack;” indicative of the great divide the book’s portrayal of God created.
After nearly five years, Young reappeared with Crossroads, followed by another three year gap that’s about to change on September 22nd when Eve, a 320-page novel releases simultaneously in hardcover and paperback from Howard, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
From the publisher’s blurb (excerpt):
…When a shipping container washes ashore on an island between our world and the next, John the Collector finds a young woman inside—broken, frozen, and barely alive. With the aid of Healers and Scholars, John oversees her recovery and soon discovers her genetic code connects her to every known human race. She is a girl of prophecy and no one can guess what her survival will mean…
…Eve is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts and centuries of scholarship—yet with breathtaking discoveries that challenge traditional misconceptions about who we are and how we’re made. As The Shack awakened readers to a personal, non-religious understanding of God, Eve will free us from faulty interpretations that have corrupted human relationships since the Garden of Eden.
Eve opens a refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women within the context of our beginnings, helping us see each other as our Creator does—complete, unique, and not constrained to cultural rules or limitations…
You can read the full blurb at this link.
In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly published on Monday, Howard Vice President and Editor in Chief Ami McConnell said,
I think the thing that I am most proud of is that it’s the product of decades of thought and perhaps even pain on Paul’s part, and it’s a very rich experience. Every read that I’ve done has brought out new levels of awareness and understanding. This is a story that has never been told before. I have been working on just novels – no non-fiction – for a decade, and so I know the tropes. I know what notes you have to hit with certain kinds of stories, and I’m faithful to make sure that authors hit those notes. This is a story I have never read before. It’s a new approach to a story as old as our culture.
You can read more of that interview at this link.
December 5, 2012
December 15, 2011
The Big Picture at Boston.Com is featuring 54 beautiful full size photos of entries in the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest. This one is my favorite. The caption reads:
ATACAMA SUNSET: Setting sun lights up clouds over Salar de Atacama in north Chile. I took this photo in July 2011 and at that time clouds like this were worrying sign of more unusual snow fall which already blocked roads to Bolivia and Argentina. Thankfully this time it just served as spectacular canvas to a sunset and reminder how beautiful is the world we live in. Salar de Atacama, Chile. (Photo and caption by Magdalena Rakita/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest)
If your computer is up to it — it uses a lot of memory — visit all the pictures at this link. (There are also many other collections to see at Boston.Com)
New Living Translation (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
August 14, 2011
This article appeared a few days ago in The New Yorker, and was pointed out to me at the blog The Ironic Catholic. It was written by Paul Simms and purports to be something God posted on His blog after a particular six-day project with which you might be familiar. It ends up attracting all the usual types of people who leave blog comments…
First, God posts:
UPDATE: Pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with in just six days. Going to take tomorrow off. Feel free to check out what I’ve done so far. Suggestions and criticism (constructive, please!) more than welcome. God out.
Not sure who this is for. Seems like a fix for a problem that didn’t exist. Liked it better when the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep.
Going carbon-based for the life-forms seems a tad obvious, no?
The creeping things that creepeth over the earth are gross.
Not enough action. Needs more conflict. Maybe put in a whole bunch more people, limit the resources, and see if we can get some fights going. Give them different skin colors so they can tell each other apart.
Disagree with the haters out there who have a problem with man having dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the cattle of the earth, and so on. However, I do think it’s worth considering giving the fowl of the air dominion over the cattle of the earth, because it would be really funny to see, like, a wildebeest or whatever getting bossed around by a baby duck.
The “herb yielding seed” is a hella fresh move. 4:20!
Why are the creatures more or less symmetrical on a vertical axis but completely asymmetrical on a horizontal axis? It’s almost like You had a great idea but You didn’t have the balls to go all the way with it.
The dodo should just have a sign on him that says, “Please kill me.” Ridiculous.
Amoebas are too small to see. They should be at least the size of a plum.
Beta version was better. I thought the Adam-Steve dynamic was much more compelling than the Adam-Eve work-around You finally settled on.
I liked the old commenting format better, when you could get automatic alerts when someone replied to your comment. This new way, you have to click through three or four pages to see new comments, and they’re not even organized by threads. Until this is fixed, I’m afraid I won’t be checking in on Your creation.
One of them is going to eat something off that tree You told them not to touch.
Adam was obviously created somewhere else and then just put here. So, until I see some paperwork proving otherwise, I question the legitimacy of his dominion over any of this.
Why do they have to poop? Seems like there could have been a more elegant/family-friendly solution to the food-waste-disposal problem.
The lemon tree: very pretty. The lemon flower: sweet. But the fruit of the poor lemon? Impossible to eat. Is this a bug or a feature?
Unfocussed. Seems like a mishmash at best. You’ve got creatures that can speak but aren’t smart (parrots). Then, You’ve got creatures that are smart but can’t speak (dolphins, dogs, houseflies). Then, You’ve got man, who is smart and can speak but who can’t fly, breathe underwater, or unhinge his jaws to swallow large prey in one gulp. If it’s supposed to be chaos, then mission accomplished. But it seems more like laziness and bad planning.
If it’s not too late to make changes, in version 2.0 You should make water reflective, so the creatures have a way of seeing what they look like.
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Penguins are retarded. Their wings don’t work and their legs are too short. I guess they’re supposed to be cute in a “I liek to eat teh fishes” way, but it’s such obvious pandering to the lowest common denominator.
There’s imitation, and then there’s homage, and then there’s straight-up idea theft, which is what Your thing appears to be. Anyone who wants to check out the original should go to http://www.VishnuAndBrahma.com. (And check it out soon, because I think they’re about to go behind a paywall.)
Putting boobs on the woman is sexist.
Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know where to start. So the man and his buddy the rib-thing have dominion over everything. They’re going to get pretty unbearable really fast. What You need to do is make them think that there were other, bigger, scarier creatures around a long time before them. I suggest dinosaurs. No need to actually create dinosaurs—just create some weird-ass dinosaur bones and skeletons and bury them in random locations. Man will dig them up eventually and think, What the f?
January 15, 2011
December 8, 2010
June 13, 2010
* Today I’m also guest-blogging as part of a month-long “blogapalooza” over at Rick Apperson’s blog, “Just a Thought.” To read that post, click here.
Today’s post is a repeat of one from June, 2008. It’s meant to get your brain going; but in the end, faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ doesn’t rest on tangential discussions of Bible & Science issues.
One of the most difficult aspects of the various debates in creationism has to do with the young earth / old earth issue. Some believe that God took his time to make the earth, that the “days” of Genesis 1 are really “ages” and by this reasoning, “theistic evolution” is possible; the idea that God used evolution.
This means that when we look at the garden of Eden we see a tree and the tree is mature. It looks like it might be at least 20 years old. (Though counting the rings would be interesting!) Underneath the tree is a rock. The rock appears to be 20,000 years old. Adam himself becomes more problematic. He’s clearly a man, not an infant. Today, Jewish boys become a man at 13; in North America we use 18; it used to be 21; Jesus began his ministry at 30. Any one of those ages denotes the idea of “man” and not “boy.” From the earliest times, our earth seems to have either aged considerably or has some age built into it.
This morning I started thinking about Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine. Wine needs fermentation and fermentation takes time. A batch of homemade brew would need at least six months, I think; aging only improves the quality, and they did say at the time that the host of the wedding had “saved the best wine until last.” Did Jesus press a “pause” button, and everyone froze in place for a year while the batch brewed, or did he simply do a creative miracle in an instant?
The former suggestion is something I just made up; I’ve never heard it suggested. If you believe in this miracle at all; it’s the latter you believe in. If that’s the case, it’s interesting that Jesus’ first recorded creative act in the New Testament; and God’s first recorded creative act in the Old Testament should involve things that have apparent age; things that seem to have been created outside the constraints of time as we know it.
And if the earth is as young as some believe, then we are still witnessing the miracle of something created with apparent age, for each time the light of a star is seen at night, we know that scientifically, the light of stars that Adam, and Abraham, and Moses saw left those distant suns thousands of years before the earth was created. Which I know doesn’t make sense to many people. But next time you’re wrestling with this issue, either personally or in discussion or with someone else, step outside Genesis for a minute and consider the water-into-wine miracle of the New Testament. Fermentation takes time. The wine definitely had an apparent age. Could this principle extend back into Genesis?
~ Paul Wilkinson
March 21, 2010
When the blogger at Free In Christ started his blog in July of 2008, he noted his indebtedness to a book by Cecil Hook also called Free in Christ. Not being a regular follower of that blog, and so not having read everything in between then and now, it does appear that 21 months later, he hasn’t stopped blogging his admiration for the book.
Recently, he cited Cecil Hook’s list of 100 things people disagree on in the churches of Christ. Rather than simply link to it — many of you never click anyway, and even fewer leave comments — I wanted to have this list recorded here. I’m not sure about the order in which these are listed, but here it is: