WHO AM I?

This is a very inspiring introspective about love, life and happiness:

Lance Childers

                This is a fundamental question that people have been asking since the birth of humanity.  Personally, I’m a grandson, son, nephew, brother, uncle, friend, skateboarder, photographer, videographer, nostalgic memory-dweller, American, Texan, Houstonian, fan of music, eagle scout, high school graduate, college graduate, employee, social media user, (new) blogger, renter, commuter, consumer, and human being.

                These are all the things that make up my everyday life, and add to the flavor, experience, and joy of my life.  However, these attributes should not define me.  I use the word “should” because sometimes I perceive these attributes as “myself”.  I wrongly perceive myself as existing within the parameters of these activities and qualities.  This can lead to a rampant sense of insecurity.  Essentially, I become a slave to the very luxuries of life and roles that I partake in.  If I don’t take a picture, record…

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Ben Breedlove

From time to time God raises people whom life points straight back at His love. A while back I found one of those who outlook on life even on the face of death gave witness to that hope in Christ that is in all of us…

I don’t know Ben or his family; just like 8 million other people I watched his video on YouTube and I was inspired. He suffered from Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy a debilitating heart condition that can be life threatening. In his video he talks about his heart condition and how he cheated death a few times. What really impressed me were the hope, peace and tranquility that he conveyed his message. That life is beautiful, that death is not the end. Although he passed away he left behind his example of hope and courage.

I wrote these verses shortly after I watched his video.

Ben Breedlove

A wall-less room
bright as the Sun.

Timeless innocence
waiting on my smile.

A reflection approaches
gentle and loving.

Peaceful solitude
reflecting on my life,

all my falls
lessons learned.

Familiar memories,

aloof and youthful
as they are nervous and painful.

After a long race…
open arms are waiting

in a bright room
peaceful and innocent.

GTG

Ben,

I also believe in angels and God.

God Bless!

A Heart for Skateboarding

Skateboarding means different things to many different people. For a skateboarder, it simply means freedom, total and complete freedom. It is hard to explain. You need a poet to do it justice. Words can hardly describe that sense of absolute creative freedom that skateboarding engenders nor its ability to fill the heart of the youth with the passion and determination to conquer the world around them.

The way skateboarders see the world is very different. A handrail or concrete drainage ditch are not just a handrail or a drainage ditch, but a canvas upon which you can draw lines with your skateboards, a canvas that screams at you and demands the best that your creativity can offer. The only limitation is your imagination and that’s what makes skateboarders so different. They can see beauty in the ordinary and approach with the heart of a poet.

Skateboarding ability to ignite the imagination and instigate the endurance and determination required to meet her demands is uniquely powerful. It is a simple and unadulterated love that challenges you to push your limits and forces to keep trying even after exhaustion has set in but that also rewards with the ultimate rush of accomplishment when you land it.

It is this love and shared passion for skateboarding that begets such strong fellowship amongst skateboarders. It is a common language that transcends cultures and social differences. It does not care who you are or where are you from. It does not even care what is it that you are trying only that, shared love and passion, the blood and sweat that put into it that unites you with those around you in the pursue of the ultimate freedom.

Thank you skateboarding!

Note: I wrote this in honor of Go Skateboarding Day, June 21. If you want to explore a bit more about the transforming power of skateboarding I invited you to watch the above documentary about skateboarding and to visit these websites:

Johnny Romano Story and Johnny Kicks Cancer Foundation.

Skateistan a website about girls skateboarding in Afghanistan.

The Beautiful: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar

I really didn’t know much about who Hans Urs von Balthasar was until I came across this video from Fr. Barron. I can’t help it but to learn more about this great 20th theologian of the Catholic Church in the near future.

Apart from the power of beauty in evangelization (which is a theme that I love) what I found most interesting about this video is Fr. Barron observation about Fr. Balthasar’s Christology and anthropology, which is centered on the very biblical idea that we don’t know our identity unless we know our mission.

What is our vocation? What is it that we are called to be? I think that our vocation is simply a tool that God uses to allow us to pour back the love that he has filled our hearts with, for the benefit and the building up of His Body. That is why it is so important to really listen to the movement in our hearts and follow that passion because we can truly change the world.

As St. Catherine of Sienna said:

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

Moreover, just as we can find our identity in our mission (as Abraham, Israel, Peter and Paul did), it also shows us the road towards sainthood. After all, as Leon Bloy once said:

The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”

I still have such a long way to go. Keep me in your prayers.

Be a Saint!

A fine-tuned Universe: The extreme improbability of an anthropic universe.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

Psalm 19:1

The discovery of the Big Bang to be the beginning of our universe not only provides evidence to a point of creation, but also to the extreme improbability of an anthropic universe. That is a universe capable of sustaining life arising out of mere chance. The argument is based on at least two empirical findings: the probability of having a low entropy universe and the values of universal constants. Fairly recently physicists have empirically determined the value of a set of universal constants which govern all interactions in our universe. The range of the value of these universal constants that disallow for an anthropic universe is basically infinite, whereas the values that allow for an anthropic universe is very limited. This points to a fine-tuned universe that emerged out of the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. These findings lead to the question how our universe was fine-tuned?

Low Entropy Universe

penrose

Entropy is the measurement of disorder of a system. The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system increases or remains constant. It is highly improbable for a system to spontaneously organize itself, just like a teenagers room it naturally tends towards disorganization. Our universe is fairly ordered with low entropy. Sir Roger Penrose, English physicist, estimated that the probability of a low entropy universe arising out of the Big Bang by chance is:

 1 in 10^10123

 That is 10 billion to the power of 123! This is an incredibly infinitesimally small probability that our universe emerged by chance with low entropy. Many apologists make the famous junkyard analogy that it is more reasonable to believe that a tornado assembled a 757 from a plane junkyard than to believe that a low entropy universe emerged out of chance.

Universal constants

Universal constants are fixed values that govern the law of physics in our universe. They are empirically determined. If any of their value were slightly different our universe would be a very different universe. The following are just three examples of universal constants that illustrate this point: 

1. The gravitational force constant (G= 6.67 x 10^-11)

If G the gravitational constant would differ from its actual value, (by even one part in 1050), the precise balance against A bare would be upset, and the structure of the universe would be drastically altered.

Davies 1982, as quoted from New Proof for the existence of God.

That is

1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

If G were greater than just 1/1050 of its value, then the universe would collapse into a single black hole.

If G were less than just 1/1050 of its value, then the universe would have expanded without the possibility of forming galaxies, solar systems or planets.

2. Strong Force Constant   gs = 15 (SI units)

The strong force is one of the four fundamental forces, it basically holds an atom together.

A 2% reduction from its current value will make the formation of elements heavier than Hydrogen impossible, i.e. no carbon.

That is if gs < 14.7 there would be no element heavier than hydrogen.

A 2% increase from its current value Hydrogen will be never be able to exist, making it impossible for water to exist and stars will have no long term fuel.

That is if the gs > 15.3 only elements heavier than Hydrogen could form.

Both of these deviations would have precluded life in our universe. Moreover, it’s far more likely to have values outside the range between 14.7 and 15.3 than fall between these values.

3. Weak Force Coupling Constant gw = 1.43 x 10-62 (SI units)

The weak force is responsible for both the radioactive decay and nuclear fusion of subatomic particle. If it deviates from its current value Carbon would not have been able to form bonds with each other making it impossible for the basic building block for life to occur.

Alternative explanations

The range of values that disallow an anthropic universe is far greater than the very narrow range of values that allows it. This strongly argues for a creator that fine-tuned our universe in order to allow life to develop. In order to avoid such conclusion, it is necessary to present alternative explanations/theories that invoke a practically infinite number of universes popping into existence. If the number of trials has now been infinite, then it is just a matter of time before one universe emerges with the right set of conditions that allows for life, independently how infinitesimally small those chances are.

As Fr. Spitzer points in his book “New Proof for the Existence of God”, the problem with these theories is threefold. First, they remain in the theoretical sphere of physics. At best they do not have any empirical data to support them or the ability to obtain empirical data in the near future is highly unlikely and at worst some are incongruent with the observable cosmology of our universe (Linde Chaotic Inflationary multiverse and the string theory landscape). Second, they violate the principle of parsimony that is they invoke borderline ridiculous number of universes in order to explain ours. Third, they failed to avoid the issue of fine-tuning (multiverse resembling those proposed by Linde and Susskind).

hoyle

Fred Hoyle, which moved out of atheism observed:

“… A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Hoyle 1981, as quoted from New Proof for the existence of God.

Concluding thoughts

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Remains an inescapable question that any serious thinker should not avoid. For Christian and Jews the answer resides in the great I AM from the Exodus 3:14…however, it is understandable for many other people to inquire and explore such an exhilarating mystery that is to be alive. The point of these series of posts was to provide evidence that it is more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator rather than to think that the universe and life are the result of a great cosmic dance of chance. That reason can point towards a creator and thereby that Christian faith is reasonable. I hope that my amateurish efforts sparked your curiosity to explore this subject in far greater depth that my poor abilities allowed me to do on this page.

I cannot help but to quote St. Augustine, the great Catholic theologian of the fourth century and father of the Church, when looking at creation asked the question: who made you?

“And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, “I am not He;” and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, “We are not Thy God, seek above us.” I asked the moving air; and the whole air with his inhabitants answered, “Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God.” I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, “Nor (say they) are we the God whom thou seek.” And I replied unto all the things, which encompass the door of my flesh: “Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him.” And they cried out with a loud voice, “He made us.”

St. Augustine of Hippo
Confessions Book X

He made us.

God Bless!

 Note: I owed the inspiration for this post to Fr. Benedict Groechel talk, God the Father, which until recently could be found at EWTN for free download. The scientific and philosophical arguments were mostly taken from Fr. Robert Spitzer book: New Proof for the Existence of God.