Letting go of my lists…

Letting go of my lists…

Worth keeping in mind each time I make a new list!


Some resolutions

Although I clearly get excited about new ideas (daily blog journaling) and have a harder time following through (3 posts in a month), I still think it is good practice to write down personal goals and refer back to them if possible. Even if you don’t make huge strides, the only way to make small and meaningful changes is to be constantly reminded of your desire to make them.

Here are a few. I’ll certainly be back to read them, hopefully I’ll add a few more, and perhaps I’ll make some progress.

Drink a glass of milk with dinner each day (or before going out for dinner). Walk up the stairs at work. Replace ice cream with frozen yogurt at home.

Work more on engagement. Not the ring kind. I have been working in the last year or two on learning more about news, politics, the economy, in order to stay informed and make conscious decisions about what I believe. I think I’ve done a great job at that–particularly listening to podcasts has helped me learn a lot. But the next step is more reflection and more questioning on my part, then going out in search of the answers. Then, using the knowledge I gain to form opinions and talk them over with people. I hope that these opinions will be well thought out and fact-based enough that they won’t be immediately swayed by a convincing character of the opposite opinion, but I also want them to be flexible enough so that I am not blinded by them. I think this blog will be a good way to start working on that–an organized place where I can write about what I learn, then do my best to respond and collect more ideas on the same topics. After forming these opinions, hopefully next year my resolution will be something along the lines of joining an organization or group in order to act on these opinions and contribute to a cause or causes I believe in.

Work more on selflessness. Try and take a step back, look at things from one room over, and from another’s point of view. Don’t get swept up in my expectations or my idea of how things are supposed to go. Instead, try to make things go in a way that is best for everyone, not just myself. Not only will it have a better effect on the rest of the world and the other people in it, but I think it will make me a happier, more compassionate, and more generous person.

Does Science Refute God?


I just listened to a really interesting Intelligence Squared podcast, where the debaters were all scientists (two atheistic or non-religious, two Christian) debating whether science refutes the existence of God. Although it was really interesting, I don’t think they really got at the point of this question.

First it seems important to define God in this question. I would say God is not religion, not the Bible, not it’s teachings. God is a non-human, non-physical being who can listen, can take action in the physical world, and created the universe. (I think God in this question must be described as the correspondence of the Gods in all of the world’s religions; descriptors beyond this are not universal and not necessarily true of God.)

I would argue that modern scientific knowledge does not refute the existence of a being such as this.

First of all, the possibility that the universe was created by God does not seem to me to be disproved or refuted by science. Modern science shows us that everything in the universe did originate at one point, the big bang.

Evolutionism, to me, does not refute God. Why couldn’t evolution exist alongside God? Perhaps if he were perfect, he would have created perfect beings to begin with. But is there a reason why he couldn’t have created the universe and allowed the physics, biology, chemistry of that universe that he created to eventually lead to the current reality? Based on my initial impressions of the idea (not the details) of God, this is possible.

My other main perception about God is that he is necessarily able to take action in the physical world. Science hasn’t disproven this either. Although an important foundation of science is determinism (the idea that given a set of initial conditions and physical laws, the reality of the situation will evolve in the same way each time, even if our measurement of that situation may vary with some uncertainty), quantum mechanics and more modern physics ideas disagree with this. The main principle that seems to directly not disprove God is the idea in quantum mechanics that infinite experimental results are possible, and the probabilities of different outcomes are specified by a continuous and infinite function—indicating that really, nothing is truly impossible. The highly unlikely may be highly unlikely, but still impossible. In this way, acts of God, though highly unlikely, could still be described as conforming to laws of physics.

I think I need to go back to my modern and quantum physics classes and look at these experiments (where electron wave functions have minute but real probabilities of being outside their classical physics confines) and see if these ideas make sense along with the idea of God playing a role in the universe in a way that cannot be described by classical physics law.

What are other universal descriptions of God, and how does science regard these descriptors?

What questions can science answer that religion can’t? And what questions can religion answer that science can’t? What questions can both answer; what questions can neither answer? Complementary, supplementary?

Don’t blame your equipment

The Things They Taught Me–Stephen Dubner on the Freakonomics Podcast


First of all, the first couple minutes of this and what he says–everyone has the things they live by, their mottos or always-stick-to-it ideas. I feel like I don’t really have that. I always work hard, try to be kind and clean and healthy and happy. But I’m not great at being kind or compassionate, even if I am trying. I try to set goals and reach them, but often those goals don’t come from me… they just kind of appear and feel correct. And I don’t really have ideas that I stick to, that I can go back to when I am trying to make a decision or make sense of a situation. Rather than hanging on to lessons and applying them to situations, I seem to let go of lessons and make up new ones for each situation… But maybe reflecting each day and writing about things that have meaning for me will help me to develop these things.

Anyways, a couple of the lessons Stephen mentions having learned in college really struck a chord with me the other day. I think they apply to some of the troubles I’ve been having here at school, some of my questioning about my situation.

First of all–“Don’t blame your equipment.” This really struck me because since I’ve been feeling dissatisfied in grad school, I have been doing this far too much. Not literally–blaming my computer or anything like that. But blaming my situation, people around me, even people who have been nothing but kind or helpful to me. I can’t ask people to change and be who I want them to be. I need to do my best at being myself, using my resources, using my drive and desire to do well. And appreciate all of the things that other people offer me–their time and advice, and the fact that even though they have so much else to think about and deal with, they spend some of their time thinking about and dealing with me.

Second–“Everyone you meet will know something you don’t.” (Well, that is Bill Nye, but Stephen gets to the same idea in this podcast.) I may be smart, I may have knowledge to offer, and when it is requested or invited I should share it. But really, I should be open to how much knowledge and experience others have, how valuable their input is. If I have an unfounded idea about how something should be and if it gets challenged, I should sit back and think for two minutes before I decide to challenge back. So maybe “Don’t be a smart ass.”


Tomorrow–“Our Buggy Brains” TED Radio Hour podcast.


The idea is–

Write once a day. Trying to make it easy by making it online–can do it anytime I’m just twiddling around and not improving my life or mind or self at all.

Use it to think about something. Instead of sitting and listening to other peoples thoughts on what should happen, or planning everything based on expectations that came from who knows where. Just think about one thing I heard or thought or read or did or felt or saw and come up with my own honest opinion about it.

Don’t make this about or for anyone but myself.

Post tomorrow, maybe about that Freakonomics podcast where he talks to his teachers–“don’t ever blame it on your equipment.”