Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waiting for the Light Arisen

One of the big debates out there right now is how the children of American (a mighty fine country I might add) should be taught how we got here. There are two camps -- intelligent design, a modernist-PC term for Creationism, and then there is Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection. These two campus usually fall along political lines to...conservative christian republicans support the former while liberal left wing democrats support the latter. Where do forward thinking, educated, fairly-religious, middle-of-the line folks fall in line? I can tell you it isn't that easy.

Let's first look at Creationsim...err "intelligent design." This is what has pretty much been believe in for all of human civilization, minus the last 150 years. It doesn't matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Native, etc, there is always some creation story. Most of these involve some sort of higher power(s) that made the earth and everything we see. The question becomes whether this higher power exists or not? Obviously it started years ago with primitive man trying to rationalize how we got here. They must of had vivid imaginations to come up with a lot of these things. What is great about it is that there is a lot of overlap to these stories in different cultures.

Religion is a popular thing throughout the world. Wars have been (and will be) fought over different beliefs. People die for it. It is a billion-dollar industry that influences elections, government officials, and anyone who wins an award (athletes and rappers particularly). I'm glad I have religion in my life. I try to go to church every week and I find it a positive thing in my life to believe in a higher power. Now do I follow the letter of the law? No, but not many people do. I'm also not one to push religion on people -- we all have our own beliefs & non-beliefs and I respect that.

So what I (like others) have been told from early on is that God created the earth, the stars, all the plants & animals, and created humans in his likeness. Ok, it's worth a shot, sounds good to a 6-yr old. Oh yeah, he did this in 7 days. He must be pretty darn good to do all that in 7 days! He must be good, he is God afterall. So this (with other creation stories) is what we've had for most of our existence. Not a problem. But where is the proof for this? Hmmm...puts a damper on things.

Well in the 1800s along comes this Darwin fella. He traveled around the world and studied animals, fossil records, and other anthropological stuff and started questioning this. He's pretty smart and says that instead of us being created by this ever-powerful God, we evolved. We evolved from monkeys! Ha! us, from monkeys? You cannot be serious?! But he provided evidence to support this. So we have a theory and we have evidence to prove it. Great! Or maybe not.

As mentioned, religion has always been important to homo sapiens. You go ahead and try to change a belief system that has been going on for thousands of years. Not that easy. It's been 150 years since "The Origin of Species" and the theory is still be challenged and people refuse to accept it. This is mainly because they live in a binary world -- creationism or evolution...there is no inbetween. If they let go a little maybe they would see that both theories can coexist and you can believe in both. Because you know what? Both are pretty convoluted if you ask me.

First there is this concept of God who created everything in seven days. If you think about all the intricacies to this world and how complex it is, not to mention that technology has shown us that there is potential for other worlds such as ours, and in consequence the possibility of life out there, it can be hard to fathom. There are also the fossil records that show that life on Earth has been around for quite a while, a lot longer then any religious book would tell you. You start thinking about it rationally and yeah, it can be pretty hard to digest.

So then you look into this evolution thing. Where did we come from? Monkeys, but where did they come from? Primitive primates, but where did they come from? Reptiles, but where did they come from? Amphibians, but where did they come from? Fish, but where did they come from? Single cell organisms. So over millions of years we started out as one-celled organism and have evolved into the most complex machine ever, homo sapiens. Before you grasp this idea of us evolving from a one-celled organism, you have to ask, how did that get here? Well if you subscribe to the Big Bang theory you get this: all mass in the universe (all planets, stars, universes, etc) were together. Not only were they together, this ball of stuff was so dense that it was infinitely small, but held all that stuff. Then at one moment (for whatever reason), it exploded and we got to where we are today. To accept the 2nd theory, a lot of things had to go exactly right for this to happen. A LOT.

So when you think about it both of these can be pretty hard to rationalize. Which one is true? Which one to believe in? A little of both or something else entirely? That is up to us to decide. There is one thing I do konw -- however we got here, it is quite a special place, and among all those billions of stars and galaxies, we are the only ones out there. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Dial it in from South of the Border

It was quite a weekend as I took a very quick trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit the OFOMOL. The journey began thursday night as I attempted to go to bed at 8:00 as I was waking up at 2:00 to drive the 2+ hours to the Pittsburgh airport to catch my first flight at 5:45. It was also the opening game of the ALDS and the Indians were off to a nice start. I decided to tune the game in on the radio to lull me to sleep. I got the game but I got a bonus too -- I had the tones of one Tom Hamilton coming through my radio 270 miles from the source signal. Gotta love the 50000 Watts of The Big One. I didn't end up falling asleep until 10 but did get to hear the Tribe pound the Yankees.

2:00 AM came too soon but with a Monster engergy drink I was ready to go. The drive was pretty easy and I can say that driving between 2:30 and 4:30 AM allows you to drive pretty fast with minimal traffic. I got to the airport and began my journey from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Houston to Monterrey. I cleared customs (guess they didn't find the drugs on me) and saw the OFOMOL. It was great to see her and we took a taxi to downtown and to our hotel and then checked out the city a little. It's a nice city. She's not enjoying it that much but coming from rural WV, it is just nice to be in a city with people and stuff to do. You know? We went to a nice little taqueria that was religious-themed. Religion is readily present among Latinos and it was fun to order the John Paul II/Juan Pablo II. It was quite tasty.

We then went out and met-up with her classmates. It was nice to meet the people she had been talking about as we had some drinks at a little bar. I was pushing being awake for 22 hours and was getting weary, even after 2 red bull & vodkas. The gang decided to hit up a club and we (OFOMOL & I) decided to only stay for a short time. We walk in and I hear "Bone" by the Killers. OK, good song, but the Killers are pretty popular so I'm not that surprised. We got our beers and I realized that the DJ was playing some kick-ass songs. The playlist was incredibly fulfilling and surprising as I wouldn't expect those songs in most clubs in the US, let alone Monterrey, Mexico. Some of the songs I remembered hearing:
Hot Hot Heat -- Talk to Me, Dance with Me
Radiohead -- Idioteque (live)
Morrissey -- First of the Gang to Die
The Strokes -- Last Night
Franz Ferndinand -- Take Me Out
The Smiths -- Bigmouth Strikes Again(?)
Blind Melon -- No Rain
Sublime -- One of their songs
Mika -- Love Today
Queen -- Bohemian Rhapsody

I was uber-impressed and if I ever end up back in Monterrey, I'll hit up that place again. What suprised me even more is that all the Mexicans were into the songs too and sang along to all of them. And the fact that they played both Morrissey and the Smiths in the short time we were there just confirms Latino's obsession with the Mozzer himself.

Saturday we had an opportunity to check out the city and spend time together. We had a nice mexican huevos racheros, but still good. We visited her campus and coincidentally there was a swim meet going on that weekend. It is a nice school and working in education, I like comparing campuses. We checked out the city -- the various buildings, museums, etc and took a walk on their new riverwalk. It was just nice to be with her and spend time together. We both realize how easier things are between us when we are physically together. Even though I was there for less then 48 hours, it was worth it and if I had the time and money I would do it again.