Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Evolution and G-d

I grew up in a (somewhat) conservative religious household with a scientist father and an opinionated engineer brother who was both extremely intelligent and (at the time) a fan of Christian talk radio.  I grew up watching people like Ken Ham tell me that evolution was a ridiculous idea, and that it was created by people with a secret agenda to manipulate people into atheism by trying to disprove G-d.   People in my social circle believed that there is a secret conspiracy among scientist to mislead the masses and disprove G-d using evolution.  My scientist father held a more moderate stance, disagreeing with evolution on scientific terms.

Honestly, there was no reason for me to believe in evolution.  I was taught that the evidence which supported evolution wasn't good.   This was supported by the fact that the only people that I knew who believed in evolution where not knowledgeable enough to address any of the concerns or critiques of the idea that I had been taught by my dad.  When "authorities" on the subject tried to teach me, they would use heuristic models such as the famous peppered moth experiment, or Darwin's finches.  They would try to trick me with examples such as representing horse evolution as orthogenic (proceeding in a linear fashion) when the reality is that horse evolution proceeds in an anagenic pattern (branching) and the horse fossils that they would put in sequence were actually on different branches of the phylogenetic tree.

These well intentioned misrepresentations of evolution only confirmed my doubts.  I would have continued in this fashion had I not began to study anthropology, where I was first exposed to legitimate evidence for evolution.  As I studied human evolution, I began to understand the principles, forces, and theories that described how evolution could and could not work.  By treating evolution as simple universal laws, which make the mechanisms of natural selection unavoidable, I began to see the truth in these arguments.

The arguments were not what I thought they were, and many of the critiques that I had did not really apply.  thought time I will reveal these critiques, and address them, but first I want to learn what you think are the conflicts between evolution and Christianity.  Please comment and tell me what you believe are the central inconsistencies or conflicts between evolution and religion.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stages of Life

!!! Disclaimer:  This post is long and personal, so if you are a reader with a short attention span, you should consider reading a different post !!!

Humans share a lot in common with insects.  We survive and thrive in a myriad of locations, using a myriad of different adaptations.  We are capable of incredible cooperation.  And we go through distinct life stages.  

It is this latter similarity that I would like to expand upon.  Insects, such as butterflies, moths, and bees, are known for the metamorphoses that they undergo.  In the case of bees, they undergo many unique life stages, transitioning from helpless larva whose only job is to grow, into nurse bees or "helpers at the nest", into door guards, and eventually into foragers.  When bees undergo these transitions, they experience morphological and hormonal changes that completely alter their behavior, with each stage clearly differentiated from the last.  
For humans, the transitions are not so neat and clean.  Biologically we experience infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult hood, and post-reproductive adulthood, but socially many of these stages overlap.  As we move from stage to stage throughout our lives, we undergo partial metamorphoses.  In some ways we are children, in other ways adults.  Our physical development, patterns of behavior, and hormonal profiles change in ways that are neither uniform, nor universal.  In this way, humans resemble evolving creatures more than metamorphosing insects.  Rather than broad and clear suites of changes, we undergo subtle alterations, acting bit by bit to adapt us to the needs of our physical and social environment.

I have been undergoing a lot of these metamorphoses, and I would like for my blog to do the same.  I would like to share a few of these with you.

In 2010 I started a photography company and began to work in a restaurant.  I lived a self-centered life, focused on maximizing personal memories and experiences.  My relationship with G-d suffered, just as it did during my brief relationship with "Jungle Jenny"

In 2011, I was involved in a serious long term relationship with a godly woman.  I asked her to marry me, and she said yes.  The experience of being engaged really taught me a lot about myself, but one of the key lessons that I learned is that I was not ready to be married.  I had not yet learned to humble myself and be totally giving as Christ is for us.  I was, and still am, a fallen and selfish being, unprepared to truly put others first.  As my engagement dissolved, my relationship with G-d took another turn for the worst.  I was, and still am, wounded.  

Later in 2011, I began studying anthropology in preparation for admission to a graduate program.  I had an excellent mentor and began to study human adaptation from an evolutionary perspective.  

In 2012, I was admitted to a graduate program with an excellent reputation for research in human evolution. I am now studying human hunter gatherers, as a way of enhancing our understanding of human evolution.  My relationship with G-d has begun to mend, and I hope that through time, the wounds that I have endured will not be like a wounded tree trunk, which admits insects and kills the tree, but rather like a pruned bush, which allows for new and more abundant growth.  The return to my blog is one of the ways in which I hope to promote this new growth.

While I will continue to relate interesting stories from the field (I never intend to stop having adventure), I would like to transition this blog into a forum for exploring spiritual and religious questions and discussing the intersections of evolution, religion, and morality.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Memories that Matter

 As I lay here in bed, laughing about missing toe nail clips and pots of coffee on the beach, I think back over the past week and all the amazing people I have met, and I am amazed. “You are never alone when you travel.” My friend Lis was given that bit of advice before she began her trip through Latin America, and it is absolutely true. You are never alone when you travel. You meet the most amazing people. Some of whom are smart, and some funny, and others kind of irritating, but all of whom create your experience.

In Montezuma, at La Luna Llena, Lis and I met the first of our ever expanding gang. A friend of mine says, “never trust a person who doesn't share food”. Well if that is the criterion for trusting someone, then Jeff was a fast friend. We met him at breakfast when he fed us toast and peanut butter, and instigated a rousing discussion of American healthcare. He was a very level headed guy, and funny, and pretty much easy to be around, which is more than I could say for Lis and Sabira that morning. They held the perspective that the American medical system is shit, and also that private insurers should be forced to take a financial loss through being required to insure people with preexisting medical conditions, while still maintaining that the medical system should not be run by the government. In general it was quite frustrating, and made me feel like they have a general lack of perspective (which is not at all the case), but it was still good because it allowed us to become friends with Jeff, and to meet Shane (female) and Amy, two fun princesses from Mass/Cali who had shushed us from their room the night before, and complained because it wasn't expensive/nice enough.

The next day we found Lis's friend Sasha, another sweetheart from Australia, and spent more than 2 hours trying to leave the hostel to hike to the waterfalls (100 ft. 50 ft. and 10 ft.). This was a bit frustrating considering how long it took for us to decide on a restaurant the night before, which in truth we did not do because everything closed before we could make up our minds (luckily for us, the pizza man had pity and made us an amazing pizza after hours). Finally we managed to leave town and head to the waterfall, which involved a very steep climb up a very dangerous and high cliff side. The climb was fun, but the water was even more fun. After several goes on the rope swing, we hiked up to a more private pond, which was murky enough to allow me to skinny dip. While we were in the pond, we met the lovely Caroline, a sweet and bubbly lady from England, who would later be integrated into our group.

From Montezuma, we took an hour boat ride to Tortuga island. I don't usually pay for tours like this, but this one was well worth the $35 it cost. We got to go snorkeling twice, which was absolutely amazing, we got to ride the ocean in a boat which was beautiful, and for lunch they took us to a beautiful beach where they prepared a fresh fruit platter, and casado plates with potatoes, toast, chicken, rice, and beans, as well as free beer and soda. That night, we had an amazing plate of food including the best guacamole of my life, met up again with the lovely Caroline, and decided to build a fire on the beach. Unfortunately for us, it decided to rain that night, and we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour. We sought refuge from the rain at Caroline's hostel, but were quickly kicked out by the staff, so we decided instead to head to the local park and have a drink. It was here that we first used the term Pikey Strumpet to refer to Caroline, and it was also here that Jeff decided to instigate a best fake beard competition with leaves.

The next day, as we made our way by bus to Santa Teresa, Caroline decided to join us, and we also made a new friend named Crazy Carlos. The trip was a bit confusing, and we ended up losing Jeff for more than a day, and also we got off the bus at the wrong spot and had to hike 2 kilometers before we found Lis. Our time in Santa Teresa was pretty laid back, consisting mostly of swimming in the pool, amazing food (fish tacos, burritos, and beef kabobs on a baguette with every kind of vegetable and sauce imaginable). I got to do a photoshoot with Kelsey, a surfing instructor/apartment manager with a masters in mechanical engineering and a background as a pole dancing instructor. Apart from meeting a lovely group of spaniards, and cooking amazing pasta dishes at Don Jon's restaurant/hostel there is not much for me to say about Santa Teresa, except that it is wonderful and I am so grateful for the people that I have met.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Trip Down Memory River

Some of the better Graffiti in San Jose

Lis on the left, and Rachel on the right.  Lis is my new buddy from Florida, and Rachel is a cool chica from Canada who now lives in Panama.  We went exploring San Jose together.

Lis noticed this.

On the right is Anita, and on the left, Anita's baby, debora, and Juan's wife Sandra.

Juan is measuring the lancha (a big boat) that was almost destroyed when it sank to the bottom of the river.

Juan Ruiz, one of my best friends, holding baby Deborah.

The first rule of Costa Rica is that plans will change.  The second rule is that plans will change again. I kept this in mind when I left San Jose to visit Delta.  Ana Moshenek, a crazy missionary woman that I have known for years, asked me to come by her farm so that Juan could take me out to Delta, but when I arrived I found out that Juan would  not be returning to Delta for at least 4 more days.  It never occurred to Ana that when I said that I wanted to go to Delta and see Juan and my neighbors, that I actually meant it.  She decided that what I really meant was that I wanted to go to Palmas and spend several days working for her and visiting with Juan.  Well, at least she got the part with Juan right.

For two days, Juan and I sat side by side in Ana's boat, the "hospitalito" cleaning and rewiring a mechanism that controls the motor.  This would  have been a simple task except that the mechanism was full of dirt and sand, and that half of the wires had faded to the point of being an indistinguishable shade of white.  Nevertheless, after two days of tinkering and fiddling and trying things out, we succeeded in fixing the control.  

Apart from working, we spent quite a bit of time sitting around the comedor, an open air dining room and living space, enjoying the fancy new electric lights, and telling stories about sisimiki, the Costa Rican version of bigfoot, as well as playing with baby Debora and discussing the jaguar that came to the edge of the yard each night for a week.  

All in all it was a good trip, but I am glad to be off the river.  I came here on vacation, and time with Ana is never a vacation!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Avengers plot summary:  Some big bad aliens led by the crazy character from Norse mythology try to destroy the earth.  Iron Man and the Hulk save everything.  Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawk Eyes help.  

Basically this is one of the best movies I have ever seen!  And to top it all off, I got to see two guys fighting in the street on my walk home!  Tomorrow morning I will begin my trip out to delta to see my old neighbors.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting Started

After quite a bit of travel and quite a few headaches with Spirit Airlines (and one really great conversation with a young boy named Sean on the Greyhound bus), I have made it to San Jose, Costa Rica.  I hardly remember how to keep a blog, but one thing that I know for sure is that today has been a good start to my adventures.

It has been four or five years since I first met my friend Meghan.  As a young man, my father and I stayed with her on one of our many visits to Costa Rica.  Maybe it was the way she talked about Jesus, or maybe it was her tight jeans,  but probably it was how she had picked up and moved to Costa Rica to do what she felt like she should do.  Whatever it was, I quickly developed a crush on her.  Normally a crush like this would not be noteworthy, but this one was unique in that it allowed me time to grow.  I saw Meghan just enough over several years to keep my interest, but not so much that I had time to make a move and ruin my chances as a young and immature man.  This is the foundation that made it possible for me to finally ask her out to dinner at a little Italian restaurant, and ultimately begin what promises to be a rewarding and healthy summer romance.  If circumstances (A.K.A. permanent addresses) were different, it would be nice if this could be more than a summer romance, but for once in my life I am trying to go slow and be realistic.

What will come of this?
Maybe nothing.... but dinner and a movie tomorrow night should give us an idea.


Mountain Man
Andrew Bishop

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hey Everyone, I know I have not been posting regularly lately. I am going to try to narrow down my online presence and focus on just a few locations to house all of my online content. Please check out my wedding photography website: