About

About the author

I was born in 1978 in a little corner of Africa which has long since been washed away by the ravages of political and economic turmoil, and I’ve spent time in more than 30 countries since then. I’m currently living in Melbourne.

Professionally, I started out in engineering (electro-mechanical), then went into software development, and then did a PhD in marine ecosystem modelling. I spend most of my work days doing complex systems modelling, but my scientific interests are across all fields, from Lorenz attractors to Deinococcus radiodurans.

I’m particularly motivated to write about the Christian faith, and the interfaces between Christianity, science and philosophy. I read a great deal (both fiction and non-fiction), I enjoy discussion and I find it difficult to forgo coffee.

Influential works include the writings of C. S. Lewis (particularly Mere Christianity), J. R. R. Tolkien, and the writings and lectures of John Lennox. While we differ on our metaphysical interpretations, I have extraordinary respect for the writings and scientific integrity of Stephen Jay Gould, and enjoy his work immensely. I have also found great inspiration in the music of U2 and Third Day. If you’re looking for some good books, feel free to check out my reading list.

Having been graced with an extremely popular first name and surname, I often choose to post under the tag ‘Sentinel’ instead.

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A work-in-progress personal philosophy

I believe that many disagreements arise from misunderstanding rather than conflicting opinions. Failing to take the time to understand where another person is coming from leads to misinterpretation of what they say, which leads to unnecessary arguments about non-issues. This is mostly why I have an “Author” page in the first place – I want to give the reader some context for what I write. (I also tend to head straight for the “About” page on other blogs, the better to understand the perspective from which the author is writing).

My basic worldview is Christian. I do not label myself by a denomination because I am more concerned with primary articles of faith, and the differences between denominations are based on secondary or even tertiary issues of doctrine. The core articles of Christian faith (take the Apostle’s Creed for a quick summary) are held in common by every Christian denomination. Also generally held in common is the fact that all other issues are not of primary importance. If you want a more detailed understanding of what Christianity actually is (and what is peripheral), read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. In fact, read it anyway. It’s a great book.

I believe that we are all aware – however much we may ignore it and deny it – of God’s presence. As such, I also believe that a strict materialistic worldview is untenable, as it cannot be reconciled with our awareness of God. I believe that science, as a discipline, offers great power to unravel the secrets of the physical world, but I also believe that as humans we have a supernatural element to our existence. By definition this supernatural aspect eludes scientific inquiry, and thus to fully understand ourselves and our place in the universe, science is insufficient.

I believe that the created universe declares its Creator, but it isn’t enough that I simply recognise that God exists and made the universe – I want to discover all I can about God. If He has revealed Himself to us directly, and if we can encounter Him personally, that would seem to be the best place to start. I believe that God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and that we can encounter Him personally in the Holy Spirit.

I regard the Bible as being trustworthy and inspired by God. I don’t claim that I have an answer or an explanation for every difficult passage in the Bible, but I note that Jesus viewed scripture as being God’s word to us, and I’m prepared to accept the whole Bible on his recommendation. There are plenty of things in the Bible that I struggle with. But I accept that challenge in the knowledge that God knows better than I do.

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About the blog

I write about topics that I find interesting, and I welcome different perspectives on these topics.

I do, however, expect that presentation of those perspectives will remain civilised, and that discussion will remain about the issues rather than ad hominem arguments. Personal attacks and foul language are already quite common enough on the internet: I require that guests here maintain a higher standard of discourse.

When commenting, please bear in mind that:

  • Inflammatory rants, personal attacks or outrageous claims which are not backed up by evidence may be deleted or edited out.
  • Shorter and more concise comments are much more likely to be read and responded to than long rambling essays. Attempting to drown out opposing voices with a deluge of redundant verbiage is not conducive to a useful conversation.
  • Diversions to unrelated issues hinder a focussed discussion of the topic at hand. If the post is about synthesis between the Big Bang and Christian doctrine, don’t bring up the Crusades.
  • If you think your statement may be contentious, rather cite your supporting evidence before you get called on it. It saves everyone time and helps keep the conversation from getting side-tracked.

23 thoughts on “About

  1. The one point I would have to disagree with you on is the distinguishment between Christian denominations. On one hand you have Catholic, which is the religion Jesus lived into existence. Then you have the other Christian religions, which, as you say focus on secondary and tertiary articles. But if you like Chesterton and CS Lewis, you’re ok in my book. (whether or not that matters to you. 🙂

    • We’ll have to agree to disagree on the degree of Catholicism/Jesus correlation, but thanks for the comment and the vote of confidence! 🙂

  2. Sentinel,

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in being a writer for a new site I’m trying to get started. I have 4 writers on board already, and I’d like to expand that to about 10 total. Check out the information here: http://jwwartick.com/2010/08/29/searching-for-writers/ (you clearly do not need to submit a writing sample). The time commitment will be as low as possible. The goal is one post a week/every other week for the entire site (that is, one post for ANY writer a week–meaning you would only be asked to write when you wanted/could).

    -J.W.

  3. Sentinel,

    Thanks for the great work. There is some really great stuff here. You have been able to articulate a great many things I was having trouble trying to work through. Keep it up!

    Cheers!

    • Dwain, I’m both humbled and delighted that the posts have been helpful.

      I often write posts as a process of working through issues in my own head, but I publish them on a public forum in the hopes that they may help and encourage others too. Glad you’re enjoying them!

  4. You’re an interesting character, Sentinel: you definitely are the kind of theist that I could get along with (I’m Agnostic, myself). You are calm (most of the time), rational, and you have a good sense of humor.

  5. Howdy. I discovered your blog by going to the 12th page of google hits related to the google doodle for Nicolas Steno. I bookmarked it right away. I love google but it irks me how google tries to hog all the hits on search results but hey, it’s a living, right?

    Jesus began to save me from utter destruction in 1979. One of the first things I did when His process of salvation began transpiring in my Soul was subscribe to the Library of Science Book Club. I collected a few shelves of books that contain a lot of information that I do not have the training to understand. However, interspersed between the formulae and tech-talk there was enough layman’s language to help me see that scientists, especially physicists, are in many cases as prideful and dogmatic as the religious fundamentalists they so delight in despising.

    The so-called Aspect experiments of 1982 and discovery of the “acceleration” of the universe in 1998 were two events which helped me understand the quandry of the modern physicist. Along those lines, one of the best layman’s books about science that I discovered is “The End of Science” by John Horgan. Horgan is a qualified and respected science writer.

    Thank you for taking the time to put up blog about God’s practical doings (temporal & spiritual) in the world of men. IMO Jesus of Nazareth is always the coolest dude on any street anywhere, anytime. Changing water to wine is no big deal IF you know how to get it done; JC knows how. Adios fer now.

    • Hi Jordan, thanks for stopping by!

      I’d certainly agree that Jesus is the coolest dude on any given street, and he’s the real motivation behind what I do here! I’m glad you’re enjoying the exploration of science alongside your faith – in my experience it’s a fascinating journey.

  6. Michael, I wonder if this is an intelligent question. It’s about the accelerating universe phenomenon discovered back in 1998. After 13 years of verification the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to the men who made the discovery. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2011/press.html

    Since I am not a physicist I have not found any info describing the phenomenon in terms I can understand. To my way of thinking, speed is speed. So:

    Does ‘accelerating universe’ mean that every single particle in the entire universe is now speeding up at the same rate of speed? If not, how could any particle in the system be excepted from the acceleration? If so, would the relative acceleration of everything cause the passage of a minute on a clock to appear as though sixty seconds had elapsed but the real elapsed time is actually LESS than sixty seconds?

    This stuff sounds like science-fiction to me but the Nobel Committee doesn’t give awards to fictionalists. I would be interested in your thoughts on this. Especially so since God Himself said that during the last days he would “shorten the time” because if he didn’t mankind would completely destroy himself. Mark 13:20, Matthew 22:14

    If the premise of this question is ridiculous just say so. I will not be offended. Thank you. (And greetings from the great state of Alabama U.S.A.!)

    • Hi Jordan,

      Don’t worry, it’s a very intelligent question. In fact, it’s something that physicists have to grapple with, too! I can’t claim to be any expert in the field, but I did have a chat to my wife about your question (she’s an astrophysicist), and while my understanding of the issues is nowhere near as good as hers, I’ll try and give you a quick answer.

      Basically, there are two separate issues here: special relativity, and the expanding universe. The relativistic time-dilation effects that I think you’re referring to, that the passage of time is dependent on your speed, don’t actually apply to the issue of the expansion of the universe. Although the universe itself is expanding, the position of objects within it is not changing relative to the universe itself. It’s sometimes described like this:

      Imagine you have a loaf of bread, a nice multi-grain with plenty of wheat and sesame seeds in it. Now, as the bread gets baked, the whole loaf expands, but the position of each seed doesn’t change relative to the loaf.

      What’s new about the research that won the Nobel Prize is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, but again, this is about the whole of space expanding and not things within space flying further apart from each other.

      If you want a much better explanation of it than I could possibly give, check out the lecture that Brian Schmidt gave for the Nobel prize ceremony. He’s a very good speaker and takes you through the research very well.

  7. Imagine you have a loaf of bread, a nice multi-grain with plenty of wheat and sesame seeds in it. Now, as the bread gets baked, the whole loaf expands, but the position of each seed doesn’t change relative to the loaf.
    What’s new about the research that won the Nobel Prize is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, but again, this is about the whole of space expanding and not things within space flying further apart from each other.

    Your wife can correct me on this, but my understanding that things in space are indeed flying apart as the “loaf” expands — which is why we have red shift. Other than scale, the overall structure remains unchanged on the macro level. In other words, it takes longer to get from A to B but the direction remains the same.

  8. Does ‘accelerating universe’ mean that every single particle in the entire universe is now speeding up at the same rate of speed?

    The universe as a whole is not accelerating in any direction. Acceleration and motion really only have meaning with reference to a given reference point within the universe. What the scientists found is that over time, the galaxies are moving further apart, and that this separation is growing exponentially.

    If not, how could any particle in the system be excepted from the acceleration? If so, would the relative acceleration of everything cause the passage of a minute on a clock to appear as though sixty seconds had elapsed but the real elapsed time is actually LESS than sixty seconds?

    This is the fun part: there is no “real” elapsed time! The “speed” of time is relative, just like the speed of a comet. The faster you are moving relative to some observer, the slower your time will pass by comparison to his — but it will appear normal to you. Acceleration, e.g. gravity, affects time too.

    One real-life example is that astronauts on the International Space Station age about 1 ms per month less than we do!

  9. On one hand you have Catholic, which is the religion Jesus lived into existence. Then you have the other Christian religions, which, as you say focus on secondary and tertiary articles.

    I doubt that many would disagree that the Roman Catholic Church grew out of the original community of followers of Christ. Conversely, however, few would agree that Jesus instituted the practices of the veneration of Mary, the Latin Mass, church infallibility, priestly confession and absolution — or indulgences! There is only one Christian religion, but many denominations within it. These denominations do not focus on the differences; rather the reverse! In fact if you look at the New Testament, the early city-churches had bigger differences than most contemporary denominations do today.

  10. I’ve been reading your stuff on the misunderstanding of the whole Galileo incident. While I’ve found a few things to corroborate what you’ve stated, and I believe your assertions to be mostly accurate, I am concerned with the lack of cited sources for the information you’re providing. It’s of concern to me because I am studying apologetics. I’m a first year student. The Galileo conflict is a core consistent thing put forward by secular humanists as why religion is not only inappropriate in the context of public education, but it is in fact dangerous to it.

    Without some unbiased source information, the information is useless to me. Also, with sources, I can read up more on it, which is always of course good.

    Regardless, THANK YOU for all of this. Your posts are brain candy.

    • Hi Bobby,

      Thanks for your kind words, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the posts.

      You ask about sources, and for the Galileo affair you’ll actually find that most of the primary historical documents are available (in English translation in most cases). So you can actually read Galileo’s letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, and also the Catholic church records. One book that I’ve been recommended is Reconstructing Nature by John Brooke and Geoffrey Cantor, which has a detailed chapter on Galileo.

  11. Hi,

    I teach a jh class on Ancient History and we’ll shortly be talking about Ussher and historical dating. Could I use your article on Ussher as part of our discussion?

    Thanks,

    Samuel D.

    • Hi Samuel,

      You’re welcome to use the article, as long as you provide the link to the students for where it came from.

      Enjoy the class, I hope it goes well!

  12. Happy to cross paths (er: meanderings) with you on the strength of looking for a Steve Turner poem you posted years ago. Am enjoying reading your posts as it brings me into fields of study into which I do not normally venture. Don’t feel like you have to visit mine (that seems to be the subculture), but to let you know that I enjoy exploring more enigmas in: https://moreenigma.wordpress.com.
    https://moreenigma.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/more-enigma-an-explanation/
    May you continue to meander with wisdom and grace.

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