Ramadan, VCR Connection, and Vision

Many of my Muslim readers, now in the throes of Ramadan, their holiest month when eating is prohibited daily from dawn to dusk, are probably really bent out of shape.  Their main test of when to cease eating each morning is by distinguishing a white thread from a black one.

As for me, one evening, had a similar battle when hooking up a digital-to-analog converter (using red-yellow-white A/V cable) to a VHS VCR, in turn to a analog TV.  The portion with the yellow plug is for video, that with the white plug is for audio.  The red plug, also for audio, was here irrelevant due to the monaural nature of this VCR (it would typically be used for stereo purposes).  So anyway, due to the A/V inputs (and outputs) being in a deep nook in the rear face of the VCR, without enough illumination, the yellow and white jacks were hardly distinguishable.

For this situation and the Ramadan test above, the same phenomenon is at play here.  Colors cannot be distinguished until light is bright enough.  Until that threshold is reached, the retinal rod cells all act the same way (though differently with different colors, I assume these are different shades of gray).  But with enough light, yellow and white are distinguishable, and ditto for the daily Ramadan thread test.

Hmm…maybe I should use a flashlight next time.  As for the early-morning “thread test” and the all-day fast throughout Ramadan, that makes me glad (personally at least) that I’m not a Muslim!

The Kaaba Stone

Natural or supernatural?
Natural or supernatural?

In my Britannica online access (courtesy of the community college I attend), when probing the article dealing with Islam (a wonderful topic to learn about, not to convert of course, but to understand where their doctrines, practices, etc. come from), I came across the statement of the Kaaba (Black) Stone.”  Located at the Kaaba, which Muslims consider the link between heaven and earth and the point of ascension of Mohammed, it was stated that the stone was placed due to Adam’s fall, and it was originally white, but by taking the sins of those who go on the hajj (the pilgrimage Muslims take once in their lifetime), it became black.

Now of course I do believe miracles have happened, can happen, and do happen, and the scientifically proven laws can be supernaturally resisted, but very rarely.  From the Christian perspective I write from, when the apostles ceased to have the capacity to perform miracles after Jesus ascended.  Since then, miracles, when they happen, come directly from God.

But for these Muslims who use this stone to perpetually absolve (and, comically enough, absorb) their sins, the stone just gets darker and darker.  And considering the idea of the age of the earth, which alas, will doubtless take us extremely beyond the scope of this post, may have a different rate of blackening depending on a given age, as well as, more or less, based on the pilgrims who visit.

The concepts of geology, like all natural sciences, were set in place by God, and as a Christian, studying these subjects instills an appreciation of the orderliness of God.  If He is controlling the stone’s blackness (though human will, of course, but that’s another matter) due to sin accrued, rather than the laws he instated concerning rocks (proven by science), that would be a violation of those laws.  After all, rocks are made of minerals, which are chemical compounds.

Yet a prevailing theory, given while Muslims view the Kaaba stone is of divine origin, others view it as a mere meteorite.  Also, while the astronomical “heavens” are one thing, the heaven where God dwells is an entirely different concept.

Most likely, according to geologists in a 1974 paper, the stone is most likely an agate, which fits the criteria of their studies.  An anonymous geologist, who was a Muslim, also analyzed this stone on his hajj.

Keep in mind all stones are created, not divine.  Some sources attribute Allah to be the stone itself.  Since only a God can forgive sin, and Islam teaches that Christ was spared from crucifixion, which, per Christianity, is the way sins are forgiven.

To conclude, as a hopeful scientist and/or writer of such, not to mention a Christian, there will inevitably some bias.  Two of the three authors of the Britannica article had Islamic names and were hence most likely Muslims, the other had a typical Western name, which does not suggest much.  But in anything, even in secular topics like science, things must always be taken with a grain of salt.  After all, scientists “write the book of nature” by their observations and experiments, and on this side of heaven, it will always be a mere approximation of the objective truth held only by God.