C.S. Lewis Never Said That

Perhaps it’s the academic in me, but I am always bothered when I see a quote attributed to someone who never said or wrote it. The situation becomes even more frustrating when it is someone whose work I know well. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and saw the following:

You do not have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.
-C.S. Lewis

While I appreciate the thought, it was not something C.S. Lewis ever wrote, and I can’t find any record of anyone saying that he heard Lewis say that. In fact, the phrase was written several years before Lewis was born.

It can be found in a magazine called The British Friend, which was an important publication among Quakers in the United Kingdom. The author is discussing the way a Quaker should mourn the death of a loved one. To emphasize that the body is a temporary vessel but the soul is eternal, he states:1

“Never tell a child,” said George Macdonald, “you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.” As we learn to think of things always in this order, that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul, our views of death and the unbefittingness of customary mourning will approximate to those of Friends of earlier generations.

Since the author attributes this quote to George Macdonald, a minister Lewis respected and admired, you might say that perhaps C.S. Lewis said this in a lecture, quoting George Macdonald. That could be true, but I seriously doubt the Oxford Don would do that without giving proper attribution!

REFERENCE

1. W. H. F. A., “Be Not Entangled Again in a Yoke of Bondage,” The British Friend July 5, 1892, p. 157.
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A Life Dedicated to Love

Ellen Irene Parran, who passed into her Savior’s arms on May 27, 2020. She was 91.
I meet a lot of different people. Some of them are fans, and they offer me high praise. Some of them are definitely not fans, and they offer me insults. Some of them share common interests with me, and they support me in those interests. Many of them are brothers and sisters in Christ, and they offer me love. I am sure that the vast majority of those brothers and sisters are sincere in their offer, but every once in a while, I meet a brother or sister who actually demonstrates the love of Christ to me. One of those sisters was Ellen Irene Parran. While she is now gone from this world, it will continue to be a better place because of her effect on it.

I met Sister Parran (who quickly became Mother Parran to me) because I spoke at the Creation Evidence Expo, which was organized by her son-in-law, Pastor Fredrick Boyd, Jr. of Zion Unity Baptist Church. I am sure I was introduced to her earlier, but my first memory of her was something that happened at a dinner she had prepared for the speakers. The ribs she made were the best I had ever eaten, and I went over to her and told her that. She smiled and told me that she was happy I liked them, and I turned around to go back to where I was sitting. However, she gently grabbed my shoulders, turned me around, looked me straight in my eyes, and said:

I love you Dr. Jay. Don’t you ever forget that.

It’s easy for someone to say those words, and it’s easy for me to hear them and quickly forget them. However, looking deep into Mother Parran’s eyes, it was clear that she really meant what she said. And, more importantly, she lived out those words. Whenever I saw her, whether it was because of the Expo or because I was just visiting, she would make sure that all my needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) were being met. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, she regularly sent me encouraging messages, assuring me that she was praying for us. In short, she lived out those words from the time she said them until the time she died.

Of course, her love was not just lavished on me. It was given to anyone who would receive it, regardless of color, creed, or nationality. I remember one time a bunch of us were sitting around a table, and during a break in the conversation, she said:

This is what the Kingdom of God looks like.

At first I didn’t understand the context, but as I looked around the table, I figured out what she meant. There were men and women with several different skin colors from several different countries, and we were all united because of our love of Jesus.

I attended her funeral on Saturday, which was called her “Homegoing Celebration,” and those words immediately came back to my mind. The church contained people with different skin colors from different countries, but we were all united by the love that she gave us, which was a result of her love for Jesus. Indeed, the sanctuary of the church that morning was an example of what God’s kingdom looks like.

As those very different people spoke about how she had changed their lives, I could not help but think 1 Corinthians 13:13:

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Because of the way she loved others, Mother Parran is one of the greatest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is gone, and I will miss her, but the power of her love has already changed the world for the better, and it will continue to do so through the people who were fortunate enough to experience it.

What Does Social Distancing Accomplish?

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (left) and deaths (right) per million in Sweden and Denmark

In a comment on a previous post about COVID-19, John D. said that he was watching Sweden and Denmark to evaluate whether or not shutting down most of society is an effective strategy against the disease. Why? Because they are very similar countries in the same basic region of the world, but they have remarkably different responses to the disease. Denmark has instituted many social-distancing strategies against the disease, while Sweden has not. Comparing how the disease is affecting those two countries might tell us something about how effective these strategies really are.

Well, I had a chance to look into this a bit, and the results of my analysis are shown in the graphs above. I got my data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Of course, you could question the reliability of the source. However, I think that if it is not reliable, it is probably equally unreliable for both countries, so most likely, the comparison is justified. The data are compiled as a list of cases and deaths each day. I made a running day-by-day total of each and then divided by the population of each country in millions. So what you see in the graphs above are the cumulative number of cases (left) and deaths (right) each day, per million people in the country.

Looking at the graph on the left, we see that the rate of growth of cases is similar for both countries, but Sweden actually has a lower number of cases per million! So despite its social distancing guidelines, Denmark has more cases per million people than Sweden. However, look at the deaths per million, shown in the graph on the right. Not only does Sweden have significantly more deaths per million, they are increasing a lot faster than those in Denmark!

How can we understand the fact that Denmark has more cases but fewer deaths per million people? I personally think it’s because Denmark is probably testing more. Because of social distancing, doctors and hospitals are not doing a lot of the routine care they normally do. As a result, they are probably more focused on COVID-19, which probably results in more testing. It’s very possible that Sweden has a lot more cases, but since they aren’t testing as much as Denmark, that doesn’t show up. This is all just spectulation, of course. I don’t have the data to confirm whether or not Denmark is doing more testing than Sweden.

It’s also possible that less routine medical care in Denmark simply means that the people with COVID-19 are getting more medical attention, which leads to a higher rate of survival. So perhaps Sweden does have fewer cases, but since each case doesn’t get as much attention, the death rate is higher. Finally, it’s possible that because of social distancing, the sheer number of viruses to which each person is exposed is lower in Denmark. If that’s the case, the initial viral load on a patient is lower, which makes the disease more survivable.

Whatever the explanation for the fact that Denmark has more confirmed cases but fewer deaths per million, it appears that social distancing significantly reduces the number of deaths per million people in the population. Of course, I don’t think you can say that definitively based on this analysis alone, but the data do support that conclusion.

ADDED NOTE: If you look at the links in Dawn’s comment and Laree’s comment, you will see that Denmark is, indeed, doing more testing, which explains why they have more cases.

Show Me a Random Post

Finding yourself in lock down with ever decreasing possibilities for conversation? Click on the button below to retrieve a random post from this blog. Use the post as a topic for your conversation. If it fails to generate sufficient interaction split into two groups to argue for or against the topic in the post but assign members randomly so some in the “for” group have to argue against and some in the “against” group have to argue for the topic. Click the button and have some fun!

This post will accept comments if you find your conversation generates questions for Dr. Wile.  Be sure to include the title of the post you are asking about in your comment.

And Now For Something Completely Different

A while back, I posted a very creative test answer given to me by one of my former students. I want to post something else that she wrote. It’s not what you normally see on this blog, but I enjoyed it immensely. I hope you do, too.

A Tale of Two 19th Century Gentleman Scientists Living in the 21st Century in Six Short Scenes


By Eden Cook

~January 21, 20—~

It has been said, though by whom I cannot say, that every good story starts with a bad decision, and that is precisely what a certain Mr. Tobias Newton was thinking he had made in accepting the chairmanship of the S. O. O. S. S. Like so many societies of its kind, the Something-or-other Science Society had been founded with the best of intentions. It was to be a society for the local pursuers of all branches of scientific knowledge to aid one another by exchanging ideas, hypotheses, and data, and for some time this was what it had been. In past times Newton had brought those who were flagging in their scientific zeal to the society meetings and it almost never failed to invigorate their studies, but now it had fallen into disrepair due to that same lack of zeal on the part of its leading members. It could now be best described as a meeting of rather glum persons, mostly men and mostly chemists, who came together to complain of the weather, their health, and the lack of available Cesium. Newton had hoped to be able to revive the society that he had enjoyed so much in the past by accepting the position of chairman, but he found that instead of influencing the members for good, their persistent pessimism was wearing away his resolve.

Hence it was a rather dejected Mr. Tobias who arrived back at his extensive Edwardian abode. It was a house with that strange sort of charm peculiar to antiquated buildings which have not yet been allowed to fall into disrepair. But to one so accustomed to its premises as Newton, these finer qualities were for the moment swallowed by his many other preoccupations. Not the least of these other worries was the guests he had coming to stay with him. His cousin, Rutherford—a chemist—was coming to visit Newton later that week. In general Newton felt inept at entertaining company, but he was always at his ease around his cousin. The trouble was not (as it so often was) Rutherford, but his much younger lab assistant who simply went by Tertius. Newton knew next to nothing about the young scientist, but in all probability he would be a sorry addition to their customary twosome. But whether he really was or not, Newton needed to try to make his cousin’s assistant feel welcome, and we will leave him to attempt that very thing.

Continue reading “And Now For Something Completely Different”

Human/Animal Hybrids?

Pallas and the Centaur, by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1482
A Facebook friend posted this article on my timeline, and then a reader of this blog sent me an email that included the same article plus this one. Both articles report on experiments that will attempt to produce human/animal hybrids. This idea obviously makes a lot of people uneasy, so I thought I would explore it a bit here.

First, let’s make sure we know exactly what these experiments are trying to accomplish. They are not trying to make some human/animal hybrid like the centaur pictured on the left. Instead, they want to take animal embryos and edit out key genes necessary for the animal to grow a specific organ. They then want to inject pluripotent human stem cells into the embryo. Since pluripotent stem cells have the ability to become any kind of cell, the thought is that the human pluripotent stem cells would grow the organ that the animal embryo cannot grow, resulting in an animal embryo that is growing a human organ. So this is less of a human/animal hybrid and more of an animal/human chimera.

Why would anyone want to do this? Well, it is estimated that more than 7,000 people die every year because they need a transplant but cannot get the necessary organ. This process would greatly increase the pool of organs available for transplant, thus saving many people’s lives.

Continue reading “Human/Animal Hybrids?”

My New Elementary Science Series and My New Chemistry Course Win Awards!

I wanted to share this with my readers: Practical Homeschooling has announced that my elementary series was awarded first place in the Elementary Science category of their 2018 Reader AwardsTM. This is the second year in a row that my elementary courses were given this honor. Here is what one homeschooling parent had to say about the series:

We studied Dr. Wile’s first book, ‘Science in the Beginning’, and we loved it. But then I got a little apprehensive about the next ones, because like you say, they were written with a different approach. I tried a different curriculum, with a more traditional sequence, and we were bored! One semester was enough. Since then we have done all four books, and we started with the 5th one this school year. What we love the most is that the lessons teach ONE concept, and the experiment, like you mentioned, cements that concept. I will not look into more Science curricula ever.

In addition, my new high school chemistry course was given the same honor! The course has been available for less than three years, and I am thrilled that it has already become popular enough to win over the readers of Practical Homeschooling. Of course, no honor can be as thrilling as receiving these kinds of emails from students:

Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed Discovering Design With Chemistry. I am a tenth-grade homeschooled student, and I really learned so much through this book. After taking this course, I know I will definitely take Advanced Chemistry in my senior year, and I will seriously consider studying chemistry in college as well. I found chemistry to be enjoyable and exciting through your work! Thank you!

If you are wondering how my new chemistry course differs from Apologia’s current chemistry course, you might want to read this comparison from a homeschooled student and her mother.

I want to thank Practical Homeschooling and its readers for these honors. I am happy to know that my courses are making home science education easier and more enjoyable!

Click here to learn more about my science courses.

A Perfect Example of Critical Thinking

The picture associated with the Facebook Quiz discussed in the post.

One of the talks I give at a lot of homeschooling conventions is entitled, “Teaching Critical Thinking.” It is a fairly popular talk, and I enjoy giving it. Of course, one of the best ways to illustrate critical thinking is to give an example of someone actually doing it. I recently ran across just such an example, so I thought I would write about it and incorporate it into that talk.

I play the electronic keyboard (and occasionally the piano) at church. While there are much, much, much better pianists than me, I enjoy playing, and some members of the congregation like to watch me while I do it, because I tend to get lost in the music, sometimes almost “dancing” at my keyboard. Indeed, a good friend once called me a “musician,” and I promptly corrected him. I told him that I am a dancer who uses a keyboard as a prop. He agreed.

In any event, because some people think of me as a musician, I often get tagged in Facebook posts that deal with music. Such was the case a few days ago. A good friend of mine tagged me when she posted the Facebook quiz pictured above. As you can see, the quiz says, “Only A Music Major Can Get 10/15 On This Quiz.” My friend was happy, because she had scored 100%. At first, I didn’t take the quiz at all, because my knowledge of music theory is incredibly weak. However, my friend tagged several others, and many of them took the quiz. Nine of them posted their results, and all of them got 100%.

That’s when one teen’s critical thinking skills kicked in.

Continue reading “A Perfect Example of Critical Thinking”

I Will Be Teaching Online Classes!

Your high school student can have me as a teacher!
Your high school student can have me as a teacher!
After teaching university classes for a couple of years, I have remembered that I really enjoy teaching. However, due to scheduling issues, I won’t be able to teach at the university this year. Nevertheless, I have officially “caught the bug,” so I decided to get my teaching “fix” with online courses. If you would like your student to have me as a teacher for the upcoming academic year, this is your chance!

I will be teaching biology, chemistry and physics. Not surprisingly, we will use the textbooks I have authored: Exploring Creation with Biology, Discovering Design with Chemistry, and Exploring Creation with Physics. Each course will consist of a weekly 90-minute videoconference where I get together with 20-25 students and discuss the material that is covered in the text. Classes start the week of September 11 and meet every week except for the week of November 20th (Thanksgiving break), the weeks of December 25th and January 1st (Christmas break), and the week of March 19th (spring break). Classes end on May 16th.

Students will be expected to have read the material that will be discussed in class so that they can ask questions about the things they don’t understand. In addition to answering any questions the students have, I will show cool videos (like this one) that illustrate the scientific concepts which are being covered, discuss the more difficult material, give students tips on how to remember things, and share my views on the relevant scientific breakthroughs that are currently happening. I am really looking forward to it!

One thing to note is that these are “honors” classes, which means that they are more academically challenging than a normal high school class but are not at the AP or CLEP level. Students will be expected to do experiments at home, but I will grade their laboratory notebook entries. Students in chemistry and physics will be expected to do all of the experiments in the course. For biology, students who do not care about having an “honors” course will be expected to do the experiments that use household items as well as the dissection experiments. Students who want an “honors” level of biology will be expected to do all the experiments, even the ones requiring a microscope and its associated kit.

If you are interested, you can learn more here.

An Excellent Observation about Postmodernism

Cartoon by Judy Horacek (click for her website)
Cartoon by Judy Horacek (click for her website)

I was first exposed to postmodernism when I went to university. If you don’t recognize the term, it is rather hard to define, mostly because there are so many variants of it. However, it generally refers to the idea that there are very few (if any) objective truths. Most of the things we hold to be “true” are only true for our experiences. Someone with a completely different set of experiences might come up with a completely different sent of “truths,” and those “truths” are just as valid as the “truths” that we come up with.

Consider, for example, the insightful cartoon above. The first panel shows an artist who has apparently come up with something he thinks is amazing. Because he sees that it is good, he considers himself to be a genius. The second panel shows a postmodern artist, who says that there is no such thing as a genius, because that category is dependent on culture. Of course, he thinks he is a genius for recognizing this fact!

Now, when it comes to art there is a measure of truth here. What is beautiful to one person might be quite unpleasant to someone else. As the old maxim states, beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. However, I think it is possible to recognize the genius of an artist, even if you don’t find his or her art appealing. A postmodernist would not agree. Moreover, a strict postmodernist would apply this idea of “truth” everywhere, even in science. According to the postmodernist, a “scientific fact” isn’t a fact at all. It is a social construct, and it might be quite different in another culture or society.

Continue reading “An Excellent Observation about Postmodernism”