Sunday, August 31, 2008

I've become a Cycling Freak

Ever since I've begun cycling more and more regularly starting early this spring, I've come to love and search for non-domestic old school road bikes (1970's/80's) like Fuji, Peugeot, Motobecane, Raleigh, Bianchi, Nishiki...

I see so many old Schwinn bikes around (Varsity, Continental, World, Traveler, Suburbans... and they tend to be very heavy) that I've stopped looking for them. Euro/Asian bikes have a little more mystique I guess. Anyway, here is a smattering of the bikes I own (or have fixed up and sold) this summer:

Blue 1980 Fuji Royale (super tall, 66cm!!!) a CraigsList find for $25 (currently at the bike shop to get the seat post unstuck, its frozen in place).

Red 1981 FUJI Gran Tourer SE (62cm)
The other Fuji I got from the same CraigsList purchase, also for $25. Downside here is the back wheel has a busted spoke and thus rim is bent/unridable as of now, but frame and everything else is decent.

Silver 1980's PANASONIC Sport 500 (62cm), I got off of Ebay for $65, ended up selling for $100.

Yellow 1972 SCHWINN Continental (54cm) I got on Ebay for $32 and sold for $200 after a few adjustments and some new bartape.

Tan 1990's GIANT ATX 750 mountain bike with front suspension. A beautiful find at the MSU Surplus Bike Sale for $15 !!! After changing out the run-over front wheel and a tune-up, I sold it for $200.

White BERGAMO Sport (52cm Italian made) that I bought on Ebay for $37 and did a tune up and converted it from a geared 12-speed into a single-speed, with new red bartape, sold for $150.

1987 Baby-Blue PEUGEOT P8 Avoriaz (62cm) I found on CraigsList for $100 I think. Sweet looking colors! New white bartape, changed out old tires with cyclocross tires, converted to single-speed (still have to change out the cassette freewheel for a BMX 16t freewheel). In VERY nice condition, my favorite right now!!

Silver 1983 PEUGEOT PF60 (60cm) also from CraigsList for $100 including nice frame pump. Was hanging in some guy's barn for last 15 years, in mint condition!! Changed out the old gum-wall tires for nice blue Maxxis Detonators (700c!!), replaced saddle with some black English cow (Brooks B17). My main commuter bike right now, +/- fenders when it gets rainy.

Tan 1980's FUJI Allegro (48cm) that I found on CraigsList ($85) for my wife Courtney to ride. She now cyclommutes to work about 3 times a week!

(My Baby)
Brown 1986 SCHWINN Sprint (62cm) that I converted into a SS.
Brooks B17 saddle, Planet Bike Hardcore Road Fenders, Specialized 170mm crank/chainring 42t, ACS Claws 16t freewheel, Red Ritchie SPD clipless pedals, flopped/chopped handlebars with red Bontrager bartape. I got this bike at an MSU Surplus Bike sale for $45 and put a lot of work into it and ended up selling it for $200.
So yeah, finding, refurbishing and selling bikes has become a serious hobby of mine. VERY enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are you an Ipodiot?

You know… one of those people that have their headphones in ALL THE TIME and completely ignore the world around you most of the time? Me too… kinda.

Two things:

1. I worry about people that shut out their own thoughts and personal reflections; those times of silence when you are driving to work or just before you doze off to sleep or when you’re just out walking somewhere with nothing but your own thoughts. I think a lot of adolescents today are at risk of “Distractaphilia”: a desire for constant preoccupation and distraction from self-reflection. A big contributor is technology: iPods, cell phones, PSPs… always giving our attention to the latest media. We are in the information age after all; access to media and information has NEVER been easier in all of history! Recreational drugs used to be a preferred diversion from “real life”, but now could technology/media be our drug? One of Blaise Pascal’s best observations was centuries ahead of his time:

“if our condition were truly happy we should not need to divert ourselves from thinking about it...the sole cause of our unhappiness is that we do not know how to sit quietly in our room."

(remember this dude lived in the 1600’s! no iPods! No VH1!)

2. However, I’m not saying technology is bad, far from it; I use my mp3 player almost daily! But my question is, what are you putting into your head? Let’s make use of legitimate means for education or encouragement rather than just entertainment or brain-veg. I know, brain-veg is needed sometimes… but may I suggest a few resources where you can fill your iPod (or equivalent, I happen to have a very nice, and much cheaper, Samsung) with some pretty cool lectures, informational talks, even (gasp!) sermons!

General Knowledge Lectures MP3s: History, Literature, Art, Languages, Science, Philosophy… learn something new!

So avoid “distractaphilia” if possible. Can you handle being alone with your own thoughts? And if you’re an iPodiot, at least fill it up with some good stuff!

Does wearing a tie to church make you more holy?

Would it shock your socks off if I said "Yes"?

Before we get to that quetion, I'd like to lay down some ground work upon which I'll build up to my final answer.

The Bible clearly teaches that God is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere at all times; He sees everything that goes on and nothing is hidden from Him (Ps. 139:7-8). So we live our lives “in the fear of the Lord”, this doesn’t mean being frighten of Him, but rather living with the knowledge of His constant watch over us.But also the Bible teaches about God’s special presence; that God especially makes His presence known at certain times and occasions. Like when He spoke from the burning bush to Moses, or the pillar of fire and cloud leading the Israelites through the desert, or filling the temple with His glory at Solomon’s dedication. But even more clearly in the New Testament God promises His special presence to be with the gathering of the local church “for where two or three are gathered in My name, there I AM in the midst of you” Mat. 18:20 (also see 1Cor 5:4, Rev. 1:12-20, Rev. 2:1).

So then we ask ourselves: how did men of the Bible act in God’s special presence? What examples do we have? Moses and the burning bush, bowing low and trembling, even taking off his shoes (Acts 7:32). Joshua falls on his face, (2Chron 7:3) the Israelites fell on their faces and worshipped when they saw the glory of God filling the temple (2Chron. 7:3) as does Ezekiel in Ezek. 44:4. When Isaiah is in God’s special presence he cried out “Woe is me, I am undone for I am a man of unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). Even in the new testament church, when someone new came into the church while the word of God was coming in power, the apostle Paul says he would fall down on his face in reverence and awe of God’s presence (1 Cor. 14:25). So we have a clear view of God’s special presence met with a certain reverence, awe and respect because it’s a special occasion.

Now let’s get back to clothing. I think we would all agree that there is an unwritten general principle that governs the way we dress. If we consider the clothing we have in our closets all falls into a spectrum from “nice” to “not-so-nice”; who ever you are, whatever your socio-economic status, you have some clothes that are nicer than others and you wear the nice clothes on different occasions than your less-nice clothes. This is just how it is. It’s not a principle derived from special revelation (the Bible), but rather from general revelation; its just common sense (the old writers, including the apostle Paul, (1Cor 11:14) would call the “light of nature”). Certain occasions like weddings, job interviews, or funerals would require you to go to the top of that spectrum, the “nice” clothes, for something to wear. Not because we are trying to impress someone necessarily, but out of respect for the occasion (our friends’s wedding, our future employer, our deceased loved one…). Other clothes near the middle or bottom of this spectrum are reserved for casual, every day or recreational occasions.

Now, knowing what we know about God and the visitation of His special presence during worship in the local church, does this occasion fall into the bottom, middle or top of all occasions? I would hope it would be near the top. So it’s not so much that you have to wear this or that; a tie, a suit, a sweater, I don’t think anyone has to go out and buy special clothes for church. All I’m saying is, whatever is in your wardrobe, doesn’t God and His worship deserve something near the top of your wardrobe? Isn’t that just common sense? So if jeans are the best you got; then fine, it’s not the type of clothing, per se, but the heart attitude about the clothing you are wearing with respect to the occasion. So let’s not pretend that “dressing up” is going to scare people away from church. I think it is equally disingenuous. When anyone has a concept of visiting church, it is not because it’s a social club, but because it is the house of God, and if an outsider or non-religious person comes into our midst as sees NO difference in our appearance, THAT is equally dangerous and likely of “scaring” them away because they might think: “Wow, these people say they are coming to worship God, and they just show up so casually. They must not think very highly of their God!”

Now, I'll be plain, I don't think wearing a tie makes me more holy. But neither do I think that my clothes have no relevance at all to my heart attitude towards God's worship, for the reasons i've just given. But really, with the clothing arguments out of the way, if outsiders are really going to be impacted by anything for good, it will not be our appearance, but rather the impact of hearing the truths of God’s word “laying bear the secrets of their own heart” as 1Cor. 14:25 makes clear. So even more than what they SEE, we need to make sure what they HEAR has the stuff that will have this very effect.

Insurance Companies: Pragmatic Virtue Police?

Stick with me here, I’m going to spring an idea I’ve been thinking about, but in which I am no kind of expert, actually I’ve still got my training wheels on I think.

Having recently done some initiating and switching of life/health/car insurance policies, etc. I couldn’t help but notice the lengthy inquiry into my personal life, my habits and lifestyle history in the insurance policy questionnaires that must be filled out before Company X will insure you. Then the waiting to see which “risk pool” you get tossed into (I think I am swimming in the “Preferred Plus, Non-smoker” pool, whatever that means). My understanding of insurance is the insurance companies need to get a history of your lifestyle so they can calculate how much “risk” or liability you will be to them. Meaning if you smoke a pack a day, have 10+ drinks a week, drive a motorcycle, have speeding tickets, have pre-existing medical condition (i.e. diabetes, etc.), received treatment for STDs, or had multiple pregnancies out of wedlock; I’m guessing they would put you in a “high-risk” pool and therefore your premiums (what you pay per month/year) will be higher for the same amount of coverage as someone who doesn’t smoke, drives a car (no tickets), has clean bill of health and no sexually promiscuous lifestyle.
So my comment is… who do they think they are?!?! How dare they judge me and discriminate against me because of my lifestyle?! Those are my own personal lifestyle decisions thank you very much! You can’t tell me what to do or force your rigid rules on me!!
(tongue extracted from cheek)
The truth is, they can and do. It is their business to assess liability, and some lifestyles are just more risky than others. Does that make it morally wrong to do those things? I don’t know, I haven’t made a one for one. I’m just trying to juxtaposition modern “moral relativism” with pragmatic insurance companies.
Two qualifying remarks:
1. Those of you foaming at the mouth because I glossed over pre-existing medical conditions in the list above, wipe the spittle off your chin… I acknowledge that many, many UNchosen providences account for conditions (diabetes, history of breast cancer, poor family situations/role models, no insurance at all!!! etc.) that are difficult to overcome. There is definitely a mix of willful and circumstantial factors and a lot of interdependencies on the dynamics of those factors. I just want to highlight the willful lifestyle choices.
2. Men are inherently evil, and men who work for and run insurance companies are no exception. Everyone is out to make a buck, often at others expense; and I’m sure insurance companies are at the tippy-top of that list. That said, the idea of getting insurance at all I think is still a legitimate one.
Take home points/questions:
1. Does getting insurance indicate a lack of faith in God, or rather being wise in protecting your family?
2. Is there a link between things that are morally wrong and things that make you “uninsurable”? Is pragmatism our highest standard? No, God’s moral law is, but is there a connection…? I think so.
3. The process has made me immensely thankful for my health, my strong family, my church, the hedges that God has graciously guarded me with all my life of which I don’t deserve.
4. There are many who can’t afford insurance, who also have bad habits, lifestyles we “churched people” might cringe at, who rely on the charity of others. What can we do and give at the local level in our churches/individually? What are our convictions about how the government should address the uninsured? I don’t have answers at this point.
Your thoughts?

How did we get the Bible?

If you’ve ever been asked or asked yourself about where the Bible comes from and still have this really fuzzy idea of “well somebody knows for sure” or “my pastors told me we should just trust it” or “come on, no one doubts the Bible” then I’d suggest this refresher on how the Bible has come into existence.

So how do we get from Moses or Paul writing something on some parchment to what we believe about the tabernacle or baptism?

1. Autographs – this is what we call the original writings, the ink put to paper by David or Peter. They most likely don’t exist anymore.

2. Canonization – who decided and what criteria were used to determine which books were included in the canon of scripture? This is an important point but would require a history lesson on the early church and the many councils and synods that were held to affirm the writings that were already widely accepted. All this to say that we know who did it and what criteria they used and ultimately that God was sovereign in this whole process.

3. Manuscripts – copies of the original writings, over 5,000 of the NT alone, this is orders of magnitude more evidence than we have for any other old writings (writings of Plato, Homer’s Iliad, Caesar’s Galic Wars…).

4. Textual Criticism – the process of studying and comparing all the manuscripts to determine which one’s are reliable and how they fit together.

5. Critical Text – the consensus (Greek) text compiled from all the manuscripts we have.

6. Translation – from original language (Greek or Hebrew) to your language (English), this is just one translation step.

7. Version – during translation different versions will translate word for word (NASB, KJV, ESV) thought for thought (NIV, NLT), or simply paraphrase (Living Bible, The Message) in order to convey the meaning in the Greek; usually a tradeoff between accuracy and “readability”.

8. Interpretation – Historical-Grammatical method (hermeneutics). Process of finding the intended meaning of the text from writer to his audience. This original intended meaning of the text is drawn out through examination of the passage in light of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre as well as theological (canonical) considerations.

9. Doctrine – Creeds, Catechisms and Confessions are public declarations of what a church or community of believers believes. These would include common examples such as the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed; the Heidelberg Catechism; and the Belgic, Westminster, and 1689 Confessions of Faith.

My take on the Bible vs. Confessions
This is an illustration I used when I was teaching a kid’s Sunday school class several years ago on doctrine. See what you think.
Imagine the Scriptures as a big bowl of chef’s salad. There is a lot of stuff in salad; lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, hard boiled egg, olives, bacon bits, croutons, dressing… and it tastes really good all mixed together, one bite may be composed of mostly lettuce, cheese and dressing. Other bites might have just cucumbers and a chunk of tomato, but the different combinations in each bite are savory and satisfying.A confession isn’t like that. A confession takes that salad and picks out all the lettuce and lays it in a stack. Then it takes out all the tomato and puts it into another pile and so on, pulling out classes of ingredients and grouping them together. Eventually you’re left with a bunch of stuff in the bottom of the bowl that you don’t quite know which pile it goes in, so you just leave it in the bowl and don’t try to sort it out.
In my salad, lettuce could represent God, it’s the most common and abundant ingredient, just about every bite will have some lettuce in it. But some bites might not have it (book of Esther anyone?). Anyway, I think you can see my analogy; a confession is just an attempt to pick out the most important topics of the Bible (God, man, sin, Jesus, saving faith…) and carefully study and define them according to the systematic usage in the whole Bible. While confessions are not inspired by God, they are serious attempts by committed Christians to organize and understand God’s revelation truthfully. The main purpose is to prevent any weird cultic or heretical departures from the truths of Scripture and provide a sense of unity for the local church.

So I’d invite you to consider what are the most important things contained in the Bible, then look at a confession and recognize that many Christians long before us have valued these same things. We are not meant to be Christians in a historical and cultural vacuum.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Truth of evolution

I was recently listening to Dr. Al Mohler’s radio program (via MP3), whom I normally have the highest respect for, but the topic this time was the conflict of evolution and the Christian worldview. He was addressing how some so called Christians’ subscription to evolution was evidence that they were going wishy-washy on Genesis or true Biblical Christianity. I agreed with a lot of what he said, provided I interpreted his use of “evolution” as Darwinism. So I just want to clear the air (or muddy it as some will likely see it) on what is true and scientific about evolution and what is not.

My main concern is in our use and understanding of the jargon that goes along with any discussion of this kind. Equivocation on what evolution actually is, can and does lead to misunderstandings which results in people of faith and people of science talking past each other rather than with each other.

Evolution is a theory which hypothesizes the process of descent with modification to account for diversity of organisms. This process posits the role of natural selection in filtering for preferable phenotypes which are distributed in a given population because of genetic variation and random mutations produced during reproduction. Homology of anatomical or morphological features (body parts and functions) is now known to be explained by parallel homology of genetic material (DNA) between or among species. Common ancestry is considered the explanation for such homologous features.

This may be surprising to some of you, but I agree with all the above but the last sentence. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key terms and ideas above to see why.

1. Descent with modification – basically means that offspring are not identical to each other or their parents, (come on, Jacob and Esau teach us this!). There is always some shuffling of DNA and genes from one generation to the next. NOTE: more recent discoveries of horizontal gene transfer in prokaryotes have modified this aspect to include obtaining genetic material from non-parental sources like plasmids, viral transposons or other HGT mechanisms.

2. Natural Selection – this is the process whereby certain traits or phenotypes are preserved in the gene pool due to selective advantages or adaptations to habitation, limited resources or competitors/predators. This is true observation.

3. Random mutations (Unguided Heritable Variation) – when DNA gets replicated, sometimes mistakes are made; these mistakes can be silent, harmful, fatal, or more rarely, advantageous (as in the case of antibiotic resistance of some bacteria). True observation.

4. Homology – this just means “similarity”. It used to apply to morphological features like skull shape or limb structure. It now includes similarity of DNA sequences. True observation.

5. Universal Common Ancestry – this is the unifying principle of evolution; not just that we as humans share a common ancestor, which is reasonable (even Biblical!), but that all organisms are distantly related. Theory, not a proven observation.

So I think it’s important that Christians are informed when commenting on evolution as it impacts the Christian worldview or what gets taught in schools, so that Christians don’t needlessly raise contentions between faith and science where they are unwarranted. Most of the observations above (#1-4) are real and true and thus are not in conflict with Biblical Christianity. Furthermore, they can and do contribute to Intelligent Design (ID) theory as an alternative scientific theory to common ancestry (more on ID theory later).

So if you go back to my initial definition of evolution, confusion arises when some people see that evolution does account for some biological diversity but then extrapolate that it can account for all biological diversity (microevolution vs. macroevolution, if you will). It behooves us as Christians to recognize truth no matter what the source and use words with an understanding for whats behind them.

An Open Letter to a Muslim

In response to an Original Op-Ed Article in the MSU State News by Abdulahi Ahmed Sufi.

Some comments on your article yesterday. I agree that discrimination against innocent people is always wrong. It saddens me that people act violently against others they disagree with, this is the antithesis of tolerance …and that is exactly why I support the intellectual (not physical) banishment of Islamic ideology from our society.

Islam is similar to Christianity epistemologically in that it is a religion which is grounded upon revelation; our belief and behavior as members of our religion are derivative from and limited by the teachings of the Bible and Qur’an, respectively. They are also similar in the provision of archetypes which exemplify these teachings and solicit our emulation, namely, Jesus and Mohammad. When one compares the two revelations and archetypes there is no reason to condone Islamic ideology. Both the revelation, according to the interpretation of self-acclaiming law of abrogation (Naskh), and archetype (historical and Hadith testimony of Mohammad’s life) support a less than kind characterization of Islam as violent and intolerant of other faiths, especially those believing in the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (NOT Father, Jesus and Mary as the Qur’an erroneously teaches). Shari'a law, the testimony of Mark Gabriel and many others affirm this intolerance and legitimizes lawful and intellectual censure of Islamic ideology.

Your statement “Our religion teaches us peaceful coexistence with everyone, just like any other religion our there” is complete fabrication and perfect example of al Taqiyya”, a form of deception for the cause of Allah, which is common in westernized versions of Islam. On these points, ironically, I agree that our society and university should support further study of Islam and its historical track record, religious teachings and socio-political value worldwide. Physical and personal attacks are always wrong, but intellectual and philosophical censure is par for the course.

Josh _______

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Causality and the Big Bang(er)

I’m currently reading a book on science, God and Intelligent Design theory, it’s called “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” by John Lennox. It is, by far, the best book I know of on science, philosophy and God. (Highly recommended). Anyway, I came upon this idea of “causality” and started learning about this old dude named Aristotle and his idea that there are 4 causes that explain the existence of every physical thing in the world. I found it very interesting.

Aristotle’s Four Causes

Cause” just means “explanatory factor” or some type of answer to “Why?” questions.

1. Material Cause – what a thing is made of, what it consists of.

2. Formal Cause – the pattern, shape or form.

3. Efficient Cause – the process and effort that produced the thing.

4. Final Cause – the intended purpose or usefulness.

So how about an example. What are the Four Causes of a chair?

1. Material – wood, glue, nails or screws

2. Formal – this would be like the blueprint of the chair, the plan or idea of what the pieces were (legs, seat, back, glue, nails) and how they fit together to make the whole; the overall shape.

3. Efficient – this would be the “elbow grease” that went into making the chair, the effort or energy by a carpenter and his power tools.

4. Final – we sit on a chair, that’s the end goal or purpose of a chair; to sit on it.

I think Aristotle is missing one though (maybe I’m wrong, I haven’t read a lot of Aristotle… ). I think he’s missing an Initial Cause. The Initial Cause would explain not only the chair, but the tree that the wood came from, the metal that makes the screws, the carpenter, tools and electricity that made the chair. If you fancy the Big Bang theory, it would be whatever caused the Big Bang in the first place, the Un-caused Cause, which role God happens to fit quite nicely.

The application to science and ID theory is that often scientists are only concerned with Material and Efficient causes; basically, what is stuff made of (matter) and what makes it go (energy). Some biologists go further to study formal and final causes with relationship to the structure/function relationships of their proteins or cells.

My comments are:

1. Scientists largely avoid this idea of Initial Cause, meaning God, which some ID theorists might argue is the same as the Formal Cause because of the "conservation of information". Meaning, information is not produced by random events but requires a mind.

They like the Big Bang, but don’t like talking about what or Who caused it.

2. Scientists don’t have a problem applying structure/function principles to the study of small biological molecules like protein and DNA but they fail to see the inference of applying it to man. Man’s Material Causes are pretty complex (DNA, cells, tissues, organs, limbs…), they think Darwinian mechanisms can account for both Formal and Efficient Cause and that there is no Final Cause, except to pass on our genes (ala Dawkins' "Selfish Gene"). Anyways, I’m not done with the book yet, but it’s really, really good.

Cloverfield: post-modern existentialism du jour

The recent movie “Cloverfield” is a genre busting adventure in cinematography and storytelling. Some have called it “Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla”, which I think is an adequate analogy, however I think some other elements are worth discussing.

30-Second Overview: Home-video style video tape is found in “former” Central Park (NY) containing this footage: Bunch of people at a party, you meet people with various connections and potential love connections. Party is interrupted by scary noises outside which happens to be a monster attacking the city and boxing with the Statue of Liberty. Panic breaks out and people scatter, chaos ensues. In the process of trying to escape/help people/find out what happened, more chaos ensues with army personnel helping people, shooting stuff, and people exploding from little monster bites, oh, and more chaos. More people die. We find out some mega-monster is causing the ruckus and it eats one of the guys operating the camera. Video camera then is taken up by the other male and female protagonists who try to escape the monster and huddle under a bridge that ends up collapsing on top of them (where they probably die, unclear), but not before expressing their love for each other. End of tape.

My take at the film-maker's message: Life is full of chaos and uncertainty and has no inherent meaning, people in authority are weak and also don’t really know what to do but relationships and finding love is the best we can hope for before we all die.

Post-modern flavor: None of us has a complete picture of what’s going on around us because we only have our own limited perspective (which is as shaky and jarring as a person holding a camcorder running down the street) or we have to trust others who either are trying to hide something from us or give us equally incomplete information.

Existential hints: Life is chaotic, (ala monsters destroying stuff and eating people and people running from or to something so fast they don’t know why) we often don’t know what is going on and must infuse our own meaning or purpose into life (ala “I love you”) otherwise its really depressing. Then we die.

So, at the end of the movie, if you were left with this shaken, unsettled feeling, yet with this tiny hint of “well, at least they got to tell each other ‘I love you’”, then I think the film maker has accomplished his goal. Movies are more than just “wow-factor” entertainment, they are stories, and stories should have meaning, and meaning is not infused by each of us individually, (ironically, that is the existential view of art) but by the author in particular. Was that the film maker’s goal? If you disagree with this interpretation, what do you think the film-maker was trying to communicate in this film?

Sufficiency of General Revelation vs. "sola scriptura"

Is all truth and knowledge contained in the Bible? (No.)

Can man know about God apart from the Bible? (Yes.)

What exactly can man know apart from the Bible (i.e. Special Revelation)?

Sir Francis Bacon is the “father” of the scientific method and was a devout believer in the Bible. He wrote,

"There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power."
This idea was not novel to Bacon but highlighted in the Belgic Confession which was penned sometime during Bacon’s early childhood (~1560’s). Psalm 19 speaks of both; “the heavens declaring the glory of God” and also “the law and testimony of the Lord converting the soul and making wise the simple”. In Romans 1, Paul explains that God has revealed His existence universally through what He has made (v.20). God has assured that such communication is plain to everyone (v.19), being seen clearly and understood from the creation (v.21). This external general revelation in nature has the purpose of teaching man about God’s eternal power and His divine nature (v.20). Romans 2:14-15 tells us that man has God’s law written on their hearts in the form of a conscience, alternately accusing or excusing their actions. Romans 1:32 even says that man knows that he is condemned by God.
So from these verses I take away three things that man can know without even reading the Bible.
Gen. Rev. is sufficient to tell us:

1. That God or some type of Supreme Being or Creator exists.

2. That moral categories of good and evil exist; (i.e. a moral law).

3. That mankind has a moral deficiency with respect to that law and is condemned by that God.

So, if we think about our sinfulness as a lethal disease that we all need a remedy for, then Gen. Rev. is sufficient to lead man to the correct diagnosis of that disease, but unable to know the correct remedy. That remedy is the atoning work of Jesus Christ. And that remedy is only available through repentance and faith in Him. And we can not have faith in someone whom we have no knowledge of, i.e. through the scriptures and preaching of the gospel (Spec. Rev.) Romans 3:21 expresses than the righteousness of God has been manifested (in Christ) and Romans 10:13-17 makes it clear that it is only available to us by hearing the gospel contained in scripture.
So, Spec. Rev. (the Bible) is necessary (but not sufficient, meaning: not all who simply hear the gospel are saved, that’s where the H.S. comes in) for salvation. However, General Revelation (God’s created order), although it can’t save and has been corrupted by sin, is revelation from God just the same and as such, retains the residue of its Maker and thus is effective when we use it to:
1. Point men to our need of a Savior who is revealed in the Bible.
2. Bring glory to God when we recognize how He has organized our world (including logic, physics, chemistry, biology, the mind, emotions, language, music, colors, food…!)
God gets glory when we enjoy these things, and see Him as the author of every good gift (James 1:17).

My main point: sometimes I think we (Reformed Christians) understand “sola scriptura” to mean there is no other source of knowledge or revelation from God outside the Bible, which can lead to a tacit anti-intellectualism and the (grievous, in my estimation) error of not using Gen. Rev. to its fullest potential.

(If you want to wrestle some more, compare Rom 3:11 “no one understands or seeks after God” and Acts 17:26-27 “God has organized providence so that man might seek Him and maybe find Him”!)