Friday, June 13, 2008

Rainn Wilson/Garrison Keillor/John Locke

Is it just me, or do Rainn Wilson and Garrison Keillor kind of look similar?

Also, I have a theory. Here is my theory. My theory is that Dwight Schrute thinks that he is John Locke.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Evolution for Creationists

Darwin's finches don't ruffle creationist's feathers. They really ought not. What Darwin saw was what creationists call microevolution, adaptation due to genetic drift and natural selection. I've never met a creationist who denies this. I've never even met a creationist that doesn't know that mutation occurs, but they do say that beneficial mutations do not occur enough for macroevolution--what they call the formation of new species.

Modern biology doesn't even make the distinction between macro- and microevolution, which is appropriate, in terms of developing the science. However, this is harmful in talking with creationists, because most of the cases of evolution cited by evolutionists creationists explain in terms of microevolution. 

One time, when Matthew and I were young earth creationists, we showed up late at a talk and discussion on evolution on campus. I asked the speaker for an example of evolution; her work is in physical anthropology, so she talked about the proliferation of genes tied to schizophrenia. Never mind that schizophrenia is a bad thing, unlikely to sell evolution; when we asked her if we could tell at one point the genes for schizophrenia were not there, and then they were, we got an answer about how the genes spread, when we were really interested in knowing if new genetic information had been introduced. This just made us more convinced creationists, because she didn't even realize what we disagreed with her on. Ironically enough, Matthew and I saw this as a cop-out fueled by cognitive dissonance. Then, we talked until late at night about complementarianism, but that's another story.

A recent article in New Scientist helps refute creationism by addressing its actual claim: that helpful mutations do not occur enough to form new species. The article talks not about a whole new species, but it does talk about how, in the lab, a biologist, Richard Lenski observed a beneficial new gene occur by mutation in e. coli, where it hadn't been before--macroevolution. The ones after a certain point had a mutation that allowed them to metabolize citrate, while the ones before this point didn't have that gene. Bob Holmes, the author of the article, did an amazing job of explaining exactly what happened, so that the creationist dismissal of macroevolution does not hold.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kiva Group Loans

My favorite way to help people on the other side of the world is Kiva. Kiva gives out microloans to entrepreneurs. These microloans help people in the developing world get past bottlenecks in development. For example, I headed back to Kiva today because one of my previous loans, to Dr. Sykes Alma Ally, was repaid. Dr. Ally runs a pharmacy, and took out a microloan to increase her inventory. By having a wider inventory, she was able to rapidly grow her business. Inside of a year, she paid back me and the others who loaned to her.

One of Kiva's neat innovations is group loans. The idea is that a handful of close friends, who are all entrepreneurs, take out a loan together, all agreeing to take responsibility if one defaults.

I like Kiva because it is dignifying. It is not a charity; at the end of the loan term, I get my money back. By humanizing hardworking people, Kiva keeps me from feeling like a hero so much as a friend. In addition, group loans promote partnership and trust among people in the developing world. These relationships, moreso than raw resources, are what will bring the stability needed to restore poor communities.

Yesterday, I saw an article by Halden at InhabitioDei, "Incarnational Ministry?"; he says,
I have a few problems with such notions. Primarily, talking about ministry as incarnational presupposes that I, the minister, am the one doing the incarnating. In other words, I am the one in a position of power condescending to the realities of the mass of persons to whom I seek to minister. In short, I get to be Jesus and they get to be the needy saps in need of salvation which I am only too happy to provide, being a beneficent minister as I am.
I suppose that in proper incarnational ministry, rather than the minister acting as a proxy for Jesus, the minister would be a friend to the needy, and, rather than being so much a minister, he would be another person in need of grace. Rather than becoming incarnate quite like Jesus became incarnate, he would join with the weak by becoming weak, anticipating the Holy Spirit to give them strength and provision. I like Kiva because it, in some way, diminishes heroism and generates partnership.

I still feel very inconsistent and artificial; I'm not genuinely a partner with the poor, if I'm living comfortably with the luxuries I have. I helped Dr. Ally a little by sharing a couple of bucks I wouldn't have made better use of otherwise but she's the one actually living with and helping, directly, the people in her community.