Worth Reading - 1/20

1. Does the scale of the universe disprove religion? This is the argument of some, and yet Hugh Hunter disagrees in a recent post at First Things:

The argument from scale is aimed at a religious person who believes that to God, we human beings are, to use Everitt’s catchall term, the “jewel” of creation. Or to follow the literary metaphor, Everitt’s target thinks that mankind is the protagonist in this universal drama. The problem is that our best science reveals that we collectively play the role of Cornelius, arriving on the scene in a fraction of the last million of the universe’s billions of years, and occupying one bit of one solar system of one galaxy among trillions of others.

Anyone can see that if Shakespeare had intended to make Cornelius the main character of Hamlet, he would have given him a bigger and more important role to play. The fact that he did not do this tells us something about Shakespeare, namely that he did not regard the character Cornelius as the “jewel” of Hamlet. Everitt’s reasoning transfers the same observation to the case of God. If God regarded us as jewels, as protagonists, he would have given us more time and more room on life’s stage. But it seems obvious that God did not do this. Everitt concludes that God does not regard mankind as jewels or as protagonists, and theists who believe that God is the sort of being who does regard them that way are mistaken.

2. National Geographic sent someone to the mountains of China to document the culture of some of the remote inhabitants:

Large heads bowed, snow coating their thick hides, plumes of steam swirling from their frosted nostrils, they’re primordial beasts genetically inured to intense cold. A wooden sleigh called a chana is attached to each horse by long pine poles and a curved yoke. The design of the sleigh—the width of a horse’s ass, the length of a human body, with two curl-tipped runners—has not changed for centuries.

Our chana driver, Norbek, a rough-cut Kazakh as impervious to the cold as his horses, adjusts the leather straps with bare hands. He has loaded the two sleighs with our backpacks, cross-country skis, and sacks of hay for the horses. Bundled in down parkas, mittens, and insulated pants and boots, we are about to sled into the Altay Mountains of central Asia.

3. Parachuting Beavers into the wilderness. This is short, but entertaining and true:

The year was 1948, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game had a problem. A people problem. They were moving into the western portion of the state, which had been wooded wilderness for centuries. And they were clashing with some of the original inhabitants—particularly beavers.

4. The heavens declare the glory of the Lord. They also communicate the puniness of humans. Here is a video that highlights some of the beauty of the latest NASA picture that is going around.