Saturday, 11 June 2011

Faith, the Environment and Engineering, Part 1

I think faith has an impact on the environment we live in and how we interact with it.

In the Christian faith, I am what is known as "Evangelical".  It means I believe that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It doesn't force me to believe that every word is to be taken literally.  The Bible contains various types of writing and the approach to each type varies slightly.  There is pre-history, history, poetry and wisdom, prophecy, the good news, letters and apocalyptic writing.  The first 11 chapters of Genesis are widely thought of as "pre-history".  Even as myths, they contain truth and the principles hold, even if the content is not suitable for empirical scientific tests.

The first few words of Genesis 1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth".  A simple statement that makes sense to me.  It says who did what, but doesn't say why - that comes later.  The "when" seems to have had more scientific input recently.  I think it was a lot earlier than 4004BC!  The "how" is split between science and faith.  Science says it started with the Big Bang.  The Christian faith says "And God said...".  I think these two are compatible and not mutually exclusive.  In many areas it is possible for science and faith to complement each other; they don't have to be at war all the time.  I believe in creation but I am not a "Creationist".  I think God took His time over His masterpiece rather than rushing to finish in six turns of the Earth.  If a thousand years are like a day (see 2 Peter 3:8), 13.8 billion years are like 6 days!

Gen 1:26 "Let us make man in our image"; 1:27 "Male and female He created them".  I believe each person has body, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit.  Not everyone believes they have a spirit but I think it goes a long way to explaining the "why".  I think we were made so that we could have relationship, with each other and with God.

I think people have a subset of God's character, including sense of humour, but this may have limits.  I'm not sure God is self-deprecating like the Brits and I don't think He often has a laugh at others' expense like some people in Germany do, except where He also offers help.  God, in His omnipotence, has such power that He could have created the whole universe complete with an Earth with built-in dinosaur fossils, just to amuse us, but I don't think He did it that way.  He doesn't seek to make us look foolish, even though we do a good job of that ourselves!  Instead He made things we could marvel at.  Whether the duck-billed platypus was made from left-over parts is an interesting debate!

Gen 1:28 "Fill the Earth and subdue it".  This says we are to look after the Earth.  "Subdue" may mean "conquer" and "tame" but it does not mean "destroy".  Humans chose the wrong path when we were deceived and ate the wrong fruit (probably not an apple!).  Unfortunately that disobedience meant our relationship with God was soured and we've spent much of the time going our own way since then, including lots of war, waste, pollution and burning up the Earth's resources.  As a Christian I believe that the Cross of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection are the way for each person's relationship with God to be restored.  Whether the way we use the Earth can also be restored is a big challenge.

So we have a responsibility to look after the Earth.  You don't have to be a Christian to believe that.  I invite you to see whether it helps!  The question for the environment is "What is going wrong and how can we take our responsibility?".  There are quite a few answers to this, covering many aspects of life.  In Part 2 I'll make a start on travel.


Note: Bible quotes are from the New International Version (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by The International Bible Society.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Welcome to Brickthus!

Welcome to Brickthus, a new blog combining my interests in Christian faith and LEGO modelling!

As we begin, a bit about the name.
  • Many sites in the LEGO fan community use "Brick" in their name because the LEGO company is quite particular about how its name is used - it must not be used as part of another name, as stated in the Fair Play policy.  Although "brick" is generic to a type of construction toy, brand loyalty is important because IMHO no other brand is a serious rival in the combination of quality, durability and functionality to the LEGO range of core products.
  • Ichthus is the Greek acronym used by early Christians.  It stands for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour".  You may have seen a fish symbol on a car.  Note that this does not guarantee good driving because Christians make mistakes just like everyone else!  The difference is that, apart from any consequences of a mistake (such as a costly and time-consuming insurance claim), Christians find forgiveness from God for their mistakes and help from God to learn from them and improve.  This also helps them to forgive themselves and the other people involved, which brings greater healing than time alone.
So the contraction of "Brick" and "Ichthus" was quite natural!

I will share about matters of both faith and LEGO building on an occasional basis to begin with.  I hope readers may find encouragement to put their respective "dark ages" behind them!  Don't be surprised if I get technical on either of these topics - I'm an engineer by trade so it comes naturally, but please feel free to ask questions to find out more.  You will have guessed by now that I can ramble too!

I wish to be radically honest but not insulting.  If something has set a poor example of hypocrisy in faith, or a LEGO product is not up to scratch, I expect to say so in a forthright way but without swearing.  Please let your comments follow suit.  I would also like to encourage the right things.

In due course I will probably add some links to other sites that I visit.  In the meantime, have a look at my LEGO model pictures on Brickshelf.

I hope you enjoy reading and commenting here.

Mark Bellis