Sailing Stones 

Sailing Stones 

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

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Brent Pollard

Death Valley. The very name is foreboding. Yet, Death Valley is the home to an extraordinary phenomenon known as “sailing rocks.” On the border of California and Nevada, there is a section of the Death Valley National Park called the Racetrack Playa. It is a dry riverbed. Why is it referred to as a “racetrack?” Dotting the Racetrack Playa are those sailing stones that seemingly move of their own accord. No human eye has observed one of the rocks move, and yet, it is evident that they do. Stones weighing even hundreds of pounds move across the dry riverbed, leaving evidence of their journey in a trail through the sand behind them.  One of the longest observed tracks was 1,500 feet long. And so, these rocks race across Death Valley.

First recorded in the early 1900s, scientists have endeavored to discover the truth behind the sailing stones. In 2014, scientists were finally able to capture the movement of the rocks using timelapse photography. As the National Parks website suggests, “The results strongly suggest that the sailing stones are the result of a perfect balance of ice, water, and wind.” 1 The National Park Service further detail the findings of cousins, Richard and James Norris:

Their observations show that moving the rocks requires a rare combination of events. First, the playa fills with water, which must be deep enough to allow formation of floating ice during cold winter nights but shallow enough to expose the rocks. As nighttime temperatures plummet, the pond freezes to form sheets of “windowpane” ice, which must be thin enough to move freely but thick enough to maintain strength. On sunny days, the ice begins to melt and break up into large floating panels, which light winds drive across the playa pool. The ice sheets shove rocks in front of them and the moving stones leave trails in the soft mud bed below the pool surface. 2

It is undoubtedly a remarkable sight. The wonder this phenomenon instills likewise reminds us of the majesty and power of the Invisible Intelligence (cf. Romans 1.20), creating the very physics making moving rocks possible.

As I read about the sailing stones, I could not help but recall the words of Jesus when asked by the Pharisees to rebuke His followers. The occasion was Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people were crying out their “hosannas” to the Lord. Jesus told the Pharisees, quoting from the prophet Habakkuk, that “if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19.40 NASB; Habakkuk 2.11) Indeed!

If you ever question your worth to God, recall the sailing stones. Without the benefit of intelligence or purpose, they still point to their Creator. They appear to be immovable, and yet are pliable by the laws God put in place. As I take stock of what I can do, I note that even I can do more than the sailing stones, possessing locomotion and free will. How shameful, then, when I choose to sit silent as a boulder. May God use me like a rock so others can see my deeds and give God the glory (Matthew 5.13-16).

REFERENCES:

1 The Sailing Stones of Death Valley. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/sailing-stones-death-valley

2 The Racetrack. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/the-racetrack.htm

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INTELLIGENT DESIGN

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Neal Pollard

A child was sent to school one day,
By parents walking the narrow way,
The child learned many a concrete rule,
On Math and English in that school.
The history class did pretty well,
Spelling and language arts were swell,
But right before lunch, to science class,
Biology lessons one needed to pass.
Talk was made of ironclad “fact,”
“Evolution!” Of course.  The talk was packed
With tales of geology billions of years old,
And transformations a wonder to behold.
Every smart person, any rational mind
Accepts this “fact,” oh who’d be so blind,
So Neanderthalish to speak of design—
Intelligent purpose, such talk unbenign!
‘Tis a danger, the courts should never allow
A nod up to heaven or a teacher to bow
To the concept of design purposefully forged
Such poisonous food for a young mind to be gorged.
What’s next? Talk of accountability?
A Creator in heaven? Judgment? Eternity?
Outrageous that Bible thumpers insist
To include in school teaching such mythical mist.
Let’s stick to the concrete, from our father of faith
Brother Darwin’s didactics, so sacred and safe.
“Amen!” to Precambrian. Naturalism? “Preach on!”
Such humanistic glory, let God talk be gone!
We got here by purposeless, meaningless oops,
Universal precision via primordial soups.
So close up your Bible, turn off your mind,
Away with your dangerous, intelligent design.
Content yourself wholly with invertebrate grandmothers,
And bask in the beauty of babboonish brothers.
Any questions, young minds?  No?  Class is dismissed!
Go out into a world of designless abyss.

Ignore clues from systems both solar and lunar,
Or circular or vascular, far better the sooner,
The opposite of intelligent? Slow-minded and shallow
Of design? Confusion, a mess, a fog, or fallow.
How many a little mind, trusting and bright?
Are being led blindly minus logical light?
By teaching unintelligent, but doubtless by design,
To eternal unreadiness via moral decline?

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“THE UNIVERSE IS ETERNAL”

“THE UNIVERSE IS ETERNAL”

Neal Pollard

Articles across the scientific community of late have been postulating a similar idea. Astrophysicist Brian Koberlein suggests that there was no single point in space and time when matter was infinitely dense, saying, “The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before ‘collapsing’ into the hot dense state we call the Big Bang. Unfortunately many articles confuse ‘no singularity’ with ‘no big bang’” (briankoberlein.com). One of the most recent darlings of this explanations are Ahmed Farag Alia and Saurya Das, whose paper “Cosmology from quantum potential” is being cited by quantum physicists and astrophysicists.  As this gets traction, there should be a trickle down effect until the broader scientific community embraces this idea.

Let’s hope so!

It could be a pivotal moment in the creation versus evolution debate.  Why?  When you wade through the technical, obtuse jargon, this theory concludes that the universe is eternal.  We all know that something has always had to exist.  Our options are “intelligent, moral, animate mind” or “mindless, amoral, inanimate matter.”  The faith factor has just multiplied by a centillion for those wanting a God-less explanation.  The same argument they have tried to level against those believing in intelligent design and creation applies to them.  How did that eternal matter get here?

Here’s the difference between the two arguments.  Matter not only had to “create” itself, it also had to develop (evolve?) intelligence, morality, purpose, etc.  The Bible reveals an intelligent designer (Creator) with inherent morality, purpose, and sufficient power and energy to make it all.  “It’s too simplistic,” they say.  “How quaint!”  But to a person who is truly trying to approach these two explanations with open-minded fairness, which of these two ideas will seem more plausible?  It won’t even be a fair contest!

Let’s hope this latest attempt to explain our origin finds favor among those who “say there is no God” (Ps. 14:1) and who “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18ff).  Maybe it will help more honest searchers “find” God (Acts 17:27). I think it will!