Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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15

May

2021

Exploring evolutionary advantages

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday May 13, 2021

 

The hummingbirds are back. Probably two pair of them, although I’m not quick enough to identify individual features.

            They seem to play, like otters, for the sheer joy of living. They perform aerobatics overhead that would make a stunt pilot green with envy. They soar vertically, flip over, dive at dizzying speeds, zoom past at low altitude, do barrel rolls, meet in mid-air, come to an instant stop…

            I also notice they have different feeding habits. One visitor perches on the feeder while sipping nectar. Another hovers constantly while dipping his (or her) beak into the plastic blossom. For each bird, always the same blossom, always the same perch.

            And I wonder which bird is headed down an evolutionary dead end.


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22

Dec

2019

The fundamental need for belonging

Author: Jim Taylor

Today is the last Sunday before Christmas. I can confidently predict that every Christian congregation -- and possibly those of other religions too -- will hear a sermon about the birth of Jesus.

            I can also predict some of the themes of those sermons.

            Some will use Mary’s status to urge people to do something about poverty. Or about justice. Or perhaps about historic discrimination against women. The Christmas story becomes a means of getting at a social issue.

            Others will use a series of carefully selected Bible verses to prove, beyond any doubt, that God Almighty became a helpless crying baby. And/or that biblical prophets knew all the details of an obscure birth that would take place 500 years later.

            And therefore, by extension, that every other word in the Holy Book must also be 100% accurate.

            A friend and retired preacher calls all of this “head stuff.” It’s wonderful material to argue about. But it makes no difference at all to how you drive on the highway. Or how you treat the cashier at the grocery store.

 


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8

Sep

2019

Evolution and science are not the enemy

Author: Jim Taylor

There have been more mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year than days in the year. CBS News predicts the U.S. will end 2019 having averaged at least one mass shooting every single day.

            It makes reporting fairly easy. Reporters can simply fill in the blanks: “Today in (name of city) a gunman opened fire in (name of church, store, mosque, or synagogue) with a (make or model of gun) killing (number dead), and injuring (number hospitalized) before being shot and killed by police.”

            In the wake of the latest mass shooting -- Which one? Does it matter? -- the TV program  Fox and Friends called in a pastor to explain what was going wrong with the nation.

            Former police officer Tony Perkins, a Southern Baptist minister who heads an organization called the Family Research Council, blamed the rash of mass murders on the teaching of science --  particularly evolution -- in American schools.

            He said, “We've taught our kids that they come about by chance through primordial slime and then we're surprised that they treat their fellow Americans like dirt."


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17

Apr

2019

Choose sides for the future

Author: Jim Taylor

Two great forces shape the world today. No, they are not economic systems, like capitalism and communism. Or political systems, like democracy and tyranny. 

            They are Evolution and Entropy (for this essay, deliberately capitalized). Perhaps we’ve always known they existed, but we gave them attributes, like good and evil, light and dark. Or names, like God and Satan.

            Evolution and Entropy are inseparable twins, like yin and yang. Both are irresistible and irreversible. Both are subject to time. But they are mutually contradictory. 

 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Evolution, Entropy

16

Apr

2019

The Rock

Author: Jim Taylor

I've had this poem in the works for almost a year. I kept adding bits of description, clarifying metaphors and analogies, fussing with parallels... I couldn't make up my mind whether it was about the church, or politics, or science. I dug it out last week, and started cutting all the preachy stuff. It's up to you, the reader, to decide what it's about. 

 A rock, rough and rugged.

crashed into a rushing river.

The river pulled back,

waves roiling away from the intruder.

But the river forgave the rock,

wrapped its long blue arms around the newcomer,

hugged it, caressed it, invited it to travel

down to the sea....


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: Evolution, Rocks, rivers, erosion

5

Sep

2018

Change is the only constant

Author: Jim Taylor

I had my 82ndbirthday last weekend. I’m headed for 100! Wooo-hooo!

            Anticipation makes me think back to how things have changed over the last century, or two. My wife Joan’s grandfather arrived from Sweden a century ago with an axe-head, a plane blade, and a handsaw. With those, he made all the rest of his carpenter’s tools.

            I wonder what he would think of modern chainsaws. 

            A century before that, my ancestors arrived from Scotland, to farm 40 acres in southern Ontario. I wonder what they would think of tractors with air-conditioned cabs. Of hay-balers and combines and automatic milking machines.

            Nothing stands still. Ever. And it shouldn’t.

            Not even religion.


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27

May

2018

You can’t do that anymore!

Author: Jim Taylor

The video went viral – as so many videos do nowadays, especially when we wish they wouldn’t. Over a million people watched Kelly Pocha of Cranbrook, B.C.lean over the back of a booth in a Denny’s Restaurant in Lethbridge, AB, and yell at the inhabitants of the next booth, who appeared to be of Arab origin. 

            Her comments were clearly racist. She told them to go back to their own country. She said they didn’t belong here. She threatened physical violence. 

            To her credit, she later went back to the restaurant, and apologized to the manager for causing a scene. And on the media, she apologized to the subjects of her harangue. “If I could rewind and take it back I would, but I can’t,” she said. That's just not who I am."

            Pocha learned a hard lesson – you can’t do that anymore. Along with a lot of other things.


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14

Jun

2017

Learning lessons from evolution

Author: Jim Taylor

Let’s quit calling evolution a “theory.” When Darwin first proposed the concept, evolution was a theory. It’s not any more – it’s a reality.

 

Gravity was a theory too, when Newton first advanced it. But no one today would step off a cliff because he believes gravity is an unproven theory. 

            Evolution is not open for debate or denial. No more than, say, the mathematical concept that one plus one equals two. Or the value of pi. 

            Darwin did not invent evolution. He recognized what had been there all along.

            Since then, not one scientific discovery has disproven evolution. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Evolution, Darwin

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