Metric and Other Measurements

“A year from now you’ll wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Switching from the Imperial measurement system to the Metric was confusing for Doris and me when we arrived in Brazil. When the DC7B landed at the São Paulo airport we immediately had to flip over to think Metric. It wasn’t miles but kilometres from the airport to the bus station. The first time we shopped for groceries we learned quickly that we could not buy a pound of butter. Everything was in kilos. Milk for our baby Monica came as a litre. Paying our language school fees was simple enough for the Cruzeiro was based on the Decimal system.

The Metric system was just one thing that we learned, each with some struggles. We did not even know how to say “hello” in Portuguese. And I learned the hard way how the number 7 is written. I had ordered reprints with the outline numbered on paper—that was because my Portuguese had not even reached the infant level. But since I had not crossed the 7, the shop read it as 1, so I had lots of pictures I did not want. Metrics was the tip of the iceberg. Everything was new, brand new to us. But there was one thing that did not change for us—our faith in God and how He had led us to Brazil.

Just when I had adapted to Metrics, I was confused to find lengths of wood being sold by the Board Foot. That old way of measuring didn’t help me for I wasn’t into carpentry. But a person quickly adapts.

There is so much in life that we can’t measure in quarts or liters for it has to do with our connections with family and friends. The hundreds of pictures I’ve checked out tell me only about relationships that we will value till life is no more. But here is one of Brazilian bishop Rev. José Ildo de Mello with his wife Christina taken in front of our home. Wonderful folks doing a good work in Brazil.

There is another system of measurements that I trust as accurate—the Bible. I trust its description of human nature when it declares we need a strong medication, in this case a Redeemer. I trust the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The fact is we have much better records of the life and ministry of Jesus than we do of Shakespeare. Recently I’ve been reading the Gospel of St. John–he often declares the trustworthiness of what he writes by saying, “I was there, I saw all this happen.”

That is so different than the way we struggled with metres and kilos in Brazil. Or the “awn” that we used in Haiti—It is about the length of a meter.

However there is a good deal of confusion about how we might understand the Biblical six days of Creation. Sixty years ago—that’s when I was studying at Asbury Seminary–conservative theologians were stating that the days of creation as recorded in Genesis could easily be interpreted as aeons of time.

On the same side of that coin scientists keep finding fossils in mountainous areas that are a kilometre down from what is now the surface. All types of dinosaurs fossils still keep being discovered . I recall visiting a park near Drumheller, Alberta where we picking up a basket of fossilized bones from those huge animals. I’ve mentioned just one of the multitude of questions being raised by scientists world-wide. I assume those hundreds of thousands of scientists are both honest and intelligent.

The problem of interpretation can be solved in the way some of us here in Canada combine the measurements of the Imperial and Metric measure. To-day I looked at the thermometer and it read 30 C. degrees. But to get a better handle on how warm this day was, I read 82 F. Neither was more accurate than the other. You may want to battle it out between Centigrade and Fahrenheit. Me I put them both together.

Francis Collins, a renowned  American scientist and geneticist is also a practicing Christian. He makes sense to me when he puts opposing viewpoints together. He states that he accepts and believes that God is the Creator while science tells us how it all happened.

The choice can be to keep both Faith and Science as measurements. It is not either or. The Christian church must simply and clearly offer a strong and sensible faith to everyone. Enough of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So as I pick up my Bible I am able to believe in the God who is the eternal Creator. As I lay it down and pick up the National Geographic I accept the measurements of the scientists as relevant. Once again I state than we can believe in God as Creator and in science as showing us how He did it. It is as simple as combining Metric and Fahrenheit.


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