Illusion of Legacy

Illusion of Legacy

Reading Time: 7 minutes

So many, myself included, as they become older, spend time reflecting on their life and the path they chose. I think it is fair to say everyone has regrets. Many of us can relate to marriages that did not work out, children we wished we had raised differently, or friendships lost over trivial matters. I certainly see some things in my own life I wish I could change. Careers that became dead ends, broken relationships, illness, disease, and death surround many lives. Others who walk a golden path, only need to watch the news for a few minutes to see the poverty and war that engulfs our world, even if only a little pain has touched their own life.

Surely I have become more reflective in recent years, especially with both my parents having passed away. My father passed when I was young, but my mother just a few years ago.

This reflective state was heightened recently when my family drove to Reno to the grave site of my father-in-law. As his wife and children gathered around his gravestone, I spent a few minutes walking by myself taking in the grave markers and their inscriptions.

It was a Catholic cemetery, and three things became obvious in short order. There were quite a few Hispanic names, and many stones just had one spouse listed. It was usually the father and then a blank space for the wife, who I can only assume was still living. I also noticed the most common dates of birth fell into the 1920s. The final common observation was the abundance of gravestones that recognized World War II veterans. One particular headstone with the name of Edward “Eddie” Nelson, caught my attention because, along with “Beloved Husband and Father”, it said he was a former Flying Tiger.

The Flying Tigers

The Flying Tigers were a group of American volunteers who flew against the Japanese in China, (paid by the Chinese government), prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Since I was a boy, anything aviation was of great interest to me, consequently, the pilots and their planes in WWI and WWII were something I read volumes about. You would only have to walk into my study to see my historical pastime hobby. World War II veterans, especially pilots, were my heroes, and their legacy was something I greatly admired.

As I gazed at this gravestone, and dozens of others, I could not help but think about how many believe their legacy is all that will be left when they are gone. As if their legacy will carry on for time and eternity. After the children and grandchildren are gone, who will remember Edward Nelson? Sure, he may be mentioned in some history books, and possibly some distant grandchildren can brag about their past relatives, but beyond that, what does a legacy amount to?

Once my wife and her siblings are gone, and the grandchildren, who are left to remember Joe Havlick? Frankly, it is depressing when you are only left with a legacy and nothing beyond the grave. After a few decades, without a family historian, the photo albums become pictures of people no one knows. How many of us have viewed old black-and-white photos of past family, or friends of the family, and have no idea who they are. Finally, the last to recall a loved one, or remember a name on a picture passes away, and with them passes the all-important legacy we leave behind. Even famous names mentioned on the history pages fade and turn to dust.

Just a Generation Later

If you think about it, we are really in competition with each other for a legacy. Current Hollywood movie stars and sports figures are known for their respective successes. Yet those that were famous on the big screen or in sports fifty years ago, are no longer household names. In another 50 years, only their own family, or movie and sports historians, will know who they were.

As time rolls on, we each leave a legacy, and some of us only have a legacy noted by family and friends. Others, because of notoriety, move outside the community they grew up in, and are known by their state, nation, or even world. Yet, just a generation later, they are only known by related family or historians who specialize in a field related to their success.

How many of you have heard of Franklin Pierce or Chester Arthur? Yet everyone has heard of Barack Obama, and all of them have held the position of President of the United States. Pierce and Arthur are just names in a long, continually growing, list of Presidents. The competition to be the president everyone remembers is more difficult every election.

Even within our own families, we compete to be the favorite aunt, uncle, or grandparent. Sure, the competition may not be intentional, but those who impact the lives of their family, (for good or bad), are the ones who are remembered for a generation or two. Beyond that, even the favorite grandparent becomes nothing more than a faded photo, remembered by the now-old grandchild. Once the memory of the grandchild is gone, or they pass away, so goes the legacy.

Beyond an Earthly Legacy

Can someone hope that there is something beyond the grave, or do we simply become part of the Lion King’s circle of life? What can someone hope for? What evidence do we have that would even suggest there is something beyond what we experience in this life? Is there hope for us, or will our bodies, and legacy, just slip away under the earth, never to be thought of again?

I believe there is something beyond the grave, unfortunately, most don’t really give it much consideration. I will offer you one piece of evidence that suggests there is something beyond the grave.

If you conclude there is something beyond our few years here, then it would be wise to consider exactly what there is and make sure you don’t jump into enemy territory when it is your turn to depart. For myself, the day I die, to quote the American Authors, (one of my favorite songs), “This is gonna be the best day of my life!”

A Small Piece of a Large Cumulative Case for Life After Death

Where did everything come from? Thomas Aquinas may have been the first to ask, “How come we have something instead of nothing?” Has the universe always existed, or does it have a beginning, and if it has a beginning, what caused it?

In the last 60 years, science has come to our aid in the realm of cosmology or the first cause. I am sure you have heard of the Big Bang theory. This theory is something a few Christians are uncomfortable with, but actually, the Big Bang theory supports a theist’s view that God created everything. In fact, if not for the Big Bang theory, the next most popular theory would be that the universe has always existed. If the universe did not have a beginning but always existed, then you have no need to explain its existence. To quote Carl Sagan, “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” You certainly don’t need some ‘God’ to have created it and to be considered the first cause of something so fantastic.

The Portable Atheist explains it this way, “Think binary. When matter meets antimatter, both vanish, into pure energy. But both existed; I mean, there was a condition we’ll call ‘existence.’ Think of one and minus one. Together they add up to zero, nothing, nada, niente, right? Picture them together, then picture them separating–peeling apart. … Now you have something, you have two somethings, where once you had nothing.” 1 So how does that explain something from nothing? If you start with matter and antimatter, then you start with something. If you think binary and one minus one, that is something, even if it is in the abstract or conceptual.

These kinds of illustrations litter the Internet and do nothing to explain how something can come from nothing.

The Big Bang Requires a Big Banger

As it stands, the Big Bang theory is the best and most widely accepted theory to explain our beginnings. As far back as 1917, the General Theory of Relativity was confirming an expanding universe, even though Einstein assumed, as most everyone did, that the universe was static and always existed. Then in 1927, Hubble was able to observe the expansion at the Wilson Observatory and shared his discovery with Einstein a short time later, confirming for Einstein the expansion. Throughout the 20th century, science has continued to confirm the Big Bang Theory, and only those on the extreme ends dismiss it.

In 1948, scientists predicted there would be leftover heat from the Big Bang. In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Prize for discovering this afterglow. This afterglow had very precise variations, and this precision allowed early galaxies to form; if you can imagine a finely tuned explosion. This was confirmed in 1989 when NASA launched COBE – Cosmic Background Explorer. In 1992, George Smoot announced, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” 2

Finally, the Second Law of Thermodynamics gives us evidence of the beginning of the universe. The universe has a finite amount of energy. If it had always existed, it would have run out of energy long ago. The Second Law is also known as the Law of Entropy, which means that nature tends to bring disorder rather than order. We have energy left and order left, so if the universe had always existed, then we would have run out of energy long ago. The Second Law of Thermodynamics demands that the universe had a beginning.

If the universe had a beginning, as science suggests, then who caused it? You see, logic tells us that “no thing” is the cause of its own existence. So if the universe had a beginning, there must be a cause outside of the universe to have caused it.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument, states the following premises and conclusion:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Does this post depress you? If so, then put your legacy in the First Cause and move beyond the generation or two that will remember you. If you work toward an earthly legacy, then not only will it be temporary, but it will disappear just as the tracks do into the sand, never to be seen, heard, or even thought of again. Revelation 22:13   Colossians 3:1-4

Sources:
1. Hitchens, Christopher. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press. 2007. Print.
2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.

 

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Illusion of Legacy by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

3D Printers and other Cool Inventions

Reading Time: 6 minutes

What we are capable of doing with technology is truly miraculous. Have you looked over some of the newest inventions or technological accomplishments in the past year or two? I want to list a few of my favorites to give you an idea.

eyeA bionic eye. Remember the first bionic man, or the six million dollar man? Well now it is for real, but not just an arm or leg, but a bionic eye. Argus Retinal prosthesis was approved commercially in the U.S. just last year and with an upgrade, patients can even see color. They expect advancements in the near future to surpass the ability of the human eye.

 

beef

In 2013, the world’s first lab created hamburger is grown and eaten. Yes, fake beef grown from cattle stem cells. The volunteers who ate the burgers said it was lacking in flavor, which is due to the lack of fat within the meat. A director of biotechnology said adding fat would be easy by letting some of the stem cells develop into fat cells.

 

 

3dguitar

I saw this one and thought of you, Cliff. A 3D guitar from a 3D printer. Layer after layer after layer, and you have a guitar. 3D printers are also making working guns, jet parts, camera lenses, and have the potential to build a house. As cool as those are, they now are building 3D printers with 3D printers, and the child printers begin building their own child printers within 3 minutes of having been created themselves. Scary?

 

 

darkmatterSearching for dark matter can be difficult. What exactly is dark matter? Well it is the stuff that makes up the universe; well a large portion of it. No one really knows what it is, but science knows what it is not: regular matter, molecules, atoms, etc. In South Dakota, you will find the Sanford Underground Research Facility where they are looking for dark matter. It is almost 5000′ underground and holds a 70,000 gallon ultra pure water tank. At the tank’s center is a titanium freezer with 800 pounds of liquid xenon. Their hopes rest on the idea that dark matter is at least in particle form and when one of these dark matter particles bumps into ordinary matter it will be detected. If that happens, they will undoubtedly earn the Nobel Prize for discovering the fabric of the universe. 1

 

converted RGB Inovision image

Science can now watch molecules morph into memories. Scientists knew that neurons were key to discovering how memories were made, and now they can give specific molecules fluorescent tags and view them traveling in living brain cells. Neurons are extremely sensitive to any kind of disturbance, but they found if they tagged all RNA messenger molecules with a green fluorescent protein, the neurons came together at the synapses of the slender dendritic spines and actually changed the shape of the dendrite fingers.2

As amazing as these discoveries and inventions are, even more awe-inspiring is the order from whence they came that allows such discoveries and inventions. Let me give you an example by asking you a question. Is mathematics discovered or invented? We know mathematics helps us understand the world around us. We use it to explain patterns and make predictions in every day life, but is it simply a tool that we have invented to explain how everything works? Sir Michael Atiyah, a mathematician at Oxford wrote, “The skeptic can point out that the struggle for survival only requires us to cope with physical phenomena at the human scale, yet mathematical theory appears to deal successfully with all scales from the atomic to the galactic.” 3

You know when you get in the shower the water will run down the drain. This is caused by the earth’s gravity, but why does the earth have gravity? Where did the law come from that caused all objects in the universe to have gravitational effects? Newton’s Law of Gravity helps us to understand gravity, but why does every object in the universe have a gravitational field surrounding it?

Every day trillions upon trillions of cells divide and multiply in every kind of plant and animal on the earth. These cells divide and create perfect replicas of themselves due to the language held within the nucleus. Every human cell has about 25,000 genes, and it is the genes that tell the cell what to do, or what protein to make, and that protein will have a specific job within the body. Not only do they replicate themselves, but they know when to divide, grow, and what to become, as in muscle or bone. Only now are we are beginning to decode and map this DNA language. Where does a language or code come from?

Plastics are polymers or monomers which are repeating units. Chains of molecules repeated over and over. These chains are held by weak intermolecular forces, the force that binds atoms, and molecules together, but what binds the actual atoms together? We call the force that keep molecules together intramolecular, but more specifically, the strong force. Our universe is held together by four universal forces, namely gravity, electromagnetic, strong, and weak forces. 4 Where did these discovered laws originate which bind our universe together, give us structure and meaning?

Thomas Aquinas was the first that we know of to come to the conclusion that everything has a cause, including the universe, but since time can’t go back infinitely, there must be an initial, uncaused first being. We call that God. This may sound like philosophical mumbo jumbo, but a simple example may help you understand that time cannot go back infinitely.

Say you were walking along in a park and you noticed a man sitting on a park bench, head bent down, elbows on his knees, hands folded as if concentrating. As you approached him, you heard him saying -7, -6, -5, -4, -3…, When he reached zero he suddenly jumped up shouting in joy exclaiming, “I did it! I did it!” You ask him what it was that he did and he explains that he finally counted from negative infinity to zero. You immediately know this is foolishness because no one can count from negative infinity to zero. No matter how far back he starts someone could add a zero to his beginning point making it that much smaller by an exponent of ten.

Since time cannot go back infinitely, it must have had a beginning. We know that time is inexorably tied to the universe and since we know both have had a beginning, then they must have a cause. Something that stands outside of time, or outside of reality as we know it.

Much like the author of a book stands outside his created story, God stands outside his created universe and is not bound by the laws that bind the universe any more than an author is somehow bound by the binding of his printed book. “All around us, a second reality binds the universe and gives it order.” – Corey S. Powell

 

Sources:
1. Powell, Corey S. “Shadow Universe.” Popular Science. November 2013: Pages 36-43. Print.
2. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “Watching molecules morph into memories: Breakthrough allows scientists to probe how memories form in nerve cells.” ScienceDaily, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
3. Livio, Mario. Is God A Mathematician? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print
4. Freudenrich, Ph.D., Craig. “What are the four fundamental forces of nature?”  03 March 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com. 24 January 2014.
Links:
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/980127c.html
http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2013/12/the-10-best-tech-advances-of-2013.html
http://www.blindness.org/index.php?view=article&id=3590%3Aargus-ii-retinal-prosthesis-to-be-offered-at-12-us-clinical-centers&option=com_content&Itemid=121
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/world-test-tube-burger-close-meat-short-flavor-article-1.1417763
http://cubify.com/blog/a-3d-printed-acoustic-guitar/
http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/16/visualized-americana-guitar-3d-systems/
http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Pagehttp://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/fundamental-forces-of-nature.htm

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