Professers of Wisdom
ArtPrize 2015: Sept. 23 – Oct. 11, 2015
Located at the First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids, at 227 East Fulton Street
Colors of Community Art Festival: Oct. 15 – Oct. 30, 2015
Located at Life Stream Church in Allendale, at 6561 Lake Michigan Drive
(Thursdays through Saturdays – 5-9pm)
Professers of Wisdom was created as my entry into the 2015 ArtPrize event. (You can check out its page on the ArtPrize website here.) Taking inspiration from Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I have substituted an ape’s hand in the place of Adam’s to iconify the confrontation of the two major doctrines of origins – Creation and Evolution. (For more information including some behind the scenes images and photos of the installation of the project, check out our Facebook page.)
During ArtPrize, Professers of Wisdom was hosted by the First United Methodist Church located at 227 E. Fulton Street. It is just up the hill from the Division/Fulton intersection, on the left (north) side of the road. The piece was viewable from the road, although of course to see any degree of detail it was better to see it on foot.
Following ArtPrize, Professers of Wisdom was part of the Colors of Community Art Festival held by Life Stream Church in Allendale, Michigan. If you were in the area, we hope you had an opportunity to drop in and see it with your friends. There was voting, so your votes were appreciated, as well 🙂
My entry for ArtPrize 2015 is a thesis on the relative plausibilities of the two major Origin Theories – Creation (Intelligent Design) vs. Evolution (Undirected Chance). With the image, I have attempted to iconify the confrontation of these two major doctrines of Origins. The image draws inspiration from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam (painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel around 1511), and uses the hand of God in the upper right of the image to represent Creation by an Intelligent Designer as the Initiator of our Origins. The hand of an ape replaces the position occupied by that of Adam’s in Michelangelo’s painting to introduce Evolution into the discussion as the alternative explanation of our Origins, competing for plausibility in our minds.
As a counterpoint to these two opposing schools of thought, the entire image has been created using a transcription of the sequence of the amino acid molecules used in the formation of a single protein. This sequence, encoded into our DNA, defines the exact order in which over 34,000 amino acid molecules must be assembled in order to create the Titin protein.
As a way of visualizing the uniqueness of this specific sequence of information, online banking uses 256-bit base-2 encryption to ensure that prospective thieves are unable to use their intelligence to figure out the exact code to use to break into their accounts. Using a base-2 (zeros and ones) numbering system, each additional bit doubles the possible combinations storable and exponentially increases the odds against happening upon the encryption key, by chance OR design. DNA uses the equivalent of a base-4 numbering system to encode proteins, so each additional bit quadruples the possible combinations stored. Finally, instead of using 256 bits to store the “secure” sequence, the Titin protein uses the equivalent of over 34,000 base-4 bits. Yet Evolutionary Theory would suggest that this incredibly complex, functional packet of information was simply stumbled upon without the application of the Intelligent Design that is suggested by the Creation-based model of the origins of life.
At this point, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about – what is the significance of the Titin protein, anyway? Well, the Titin protein is one of over 20,000 proteins that are defined in our DNA. Each protein serves a specific function in the makeup of our bodies at the sub-cellular level. Focusing on the Titin protein, what we find is a sophisticated molecular assembly which not only has the ability to stretch or extend, but also includes a mechanism to retract upon receipt of an electrical signal. In effect, it is a molecular piston. This sophisticated little motor provides the key component in the construction of every single muscle cell in our body, and for every Titin protein to be functional, each of over 34,000 amino acid molecules must be assembled in the exact order specified in this section of DNA code. This accuracy is necessary because once all the molecules have been strung together, the string collapses as the electrical and chemical properties of the individual amino acid molecules cause a specific pattern of collapse. This process, called protein folding, is directed by specific molecules in the chain either binding to or repelling other molecules in the chain. Were the order of these molecules to be changed, the mass of amino acid molecules resulting from the collapse would not be a functional Titin protein. The end result of the Titin protein manufacturing process is not the string of precisely ordered molecules as defined in the DNA; it is the finished fully-functional 3-dimensional component that results from the engineered collapse of the string, guided by the interactions of the various characteristics of the individual molecules in that string.
The fact that this particular, complex protein is useless without over 20,000 other proteins being simultaneously available to form a human being begins to seriously break down the plausibility of Evolution as a viable theory in explaining the origins of life. Ultimately, professing the “wisdom of Evolution” in the face of such implausibility tends to make that “professer” sound increasingly ridiculous and – in a word – foolish. This brings us finally to the meaning behind the title of this piece. Professers of Wisdom appears at first glance to be mis-spelled, as the first word in the title is commonly mistaken to be an unintentional misspelling of the word Professor. However, the word Professer is not meant as a reference to the venerable, oft well-loved (but occasionally hated) instructors typically found in our institutions of higher learning. Instead, it is meant as a reference to the persons of those who profess. In short, Professers of Wisdom is a reference to those who profess to have wisdom. Ultimately, this title is a derivation of an excerpt from a letter written by Paul to the Romans 2000 years ago, and found in Romans 1:22. Leading up to that verse, we find these words: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” This is a reference, of course, to creation by intelligent design. It goes on to say, “so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” This last bit, then, is the verse from which this piece derives its name. Now that we are finally able to perceive and appreciate the “invisible” evidence within ourselves and other “things that are made,” the question remains – to what lengths are we willing to go to blind ourselves to the obvious? Now that we in the 21st century are actually able to “see” those invisible things which can be understood by the things that are made, I just have to wonder… how long will self-proclaimed “experts” continue to feed their vanity by clinging to the constructs of their imaginations, extending their ridiculous hypotheses as truth, and professing themselves to be wise?
Nobody wants to be a fool…
The skies proclaim their Maker’s Glory;
Nature shows a Grand Design –
But allergy to all that’s Holy
Blinds many brighter minds.
…excerpted from The Ocean Swell of Time © 2013 by Don Teachout
Castles in the Sand © 2013 by Don Teachout
Walking down a beach one day,
I found there in the sand
A drip-sand castle with a moat,
And prints of little hands.
I did not see a soul about,
But still, you must agree –
Mere chance provides no answer
Of how it came to be!
Whenever you find order
Amidst chaos and decay,
You know that there’s a reason
Entropy didn’t get it’s way.
Descent of order into chaos,
Unraveling with Time
Cannot explain the presence
Of order and design.
So when I saw that castle,
I saw proof of unseen hands –
Of a mind directing action
To challenge chaos in the sand.
_ _ __ ___ ____ _______
Forget a moment all you’ve learned
As “Scientific Fact” –
Those theories pushed as science
Despite logic that is cracked.
Since entropy still is working
To bring design to naught,
The evidence is rampant
‘Gainst what’s so often taught.
Look at the world with newborn eyes,
And study what you can –
You’ll find that there’s an awful lot
Of “castles” in the “sand”
From newborn babes to birds in flight –
And kittens, corn and seeds –
Bees and berries, bears and birth
And even you and me!
All give the lie to random chance
As cause for what you see –
You know there must be more behind
What’s clearly come to be.
The architectural excellence –
And aesthetic mastery
Are not-so-subtle themes that hint
That Intelligence was key.
The signs that we see everywhere
Demonstrate Grand Design –
It’s all the proof we really need
Of a vastly superior Mind.
And since it’s clearly far beyond
The skills of you or me,
We’d best approach with reverence
The Mind Whose work we see.
A Mind that’s clearly gone before,
And left for us to find
The clues we’d need to find Him
As we walk these sands of time.
Don was born in Africa and was exposed to a wide diversity of cultures at a young age. His life experiences have given him an appreciation of perspective and an awareness of its importance in the process of communication. He enjoys focusing on the details. He loves the beauty that pervades nature. He is in a constant state of awe and appreciation for the design and detail found in God’s creations.
Don started creating art out of words in 2010. Long fascinated by the diversity available within the realms of visual and verbal communication, he finds great personal satisfaction in merging the two forms of expression into a singular form of art that he likes to call Pictures of 1000 Words. If you have the chance, he hopes you will take some time to check out his work and perhaps even discover new ways of looking at things you may have previously dismissed or taken for granted 🙂