Summertime (why has this place been so quiet?)
I must apologize for my month-long absence from this blog and Twitter! I know it might seem to a few of you that I was never going to get to your comments that were held in moderation or that I was censoring something you’d said by not approving them. I assure you that this is not the case. I don’t censor opinions here, I only hold comments to prevent possible hate mongering or any spam that might get past WordPress’s filter.
So, the comments from the last month+ have been approved, and mostly replied to (one is long and merits a longer reply), and I’m pondering a new post. Sorry I missed any in June, maybe I’ll be able to get two in in July! (the response to the one long comment might end up being one of them).
Just a quick life update on me: Still looking for other employment, the job market is terrible still. At least there are some tech jobs being posted to various places these days, but right now they’re still mostly experience required or programming jobs (with experience required).
Summer has been good for me in that I’ve been able to be more active in the local freethought group, attending meetings I usually can’t make because of various choir rehearsals (at the church and in the semi-pro group I sing with in town) during the “school year”. It’s also been hellishly hot here in SC. 109°f this past Friday, all-time record breaking heat for Columbia!
Things at the church are… Interesting. There was the pastor’s sermon a couple of months ago about young earth creationism and how you can’t be a Christian without believing in it. I actually had a couple of members griping to me about it, saying they were considering leaving the church over it. One of them outright told me that he believes you can be a Christian and still believe in the truth of evolution. I’m glad I’m not surrounded by 100% deluded folks when I’m there.
Then, about a month ago, the pastor started showing a video series from Wall Builders on Sunday nights. Wall Builders are to American History what Answers in Genesis is to cosmology and biology… A lot of misinformation being disseminated by a self-proclaimed expert in a field which he has no credentials. I was not looking forward to having to sit through more weeks of this (and part of the problem is that the video is basically an extended infomercial selling the video, and David Barton’s books), but so far they haven’t made an appearance again (we didn’t have evening services on Father’s day because VBS started that day, the next Sunday evening I was singing in a choral concert, and this past Sunday the pastor was out of town and we just had a brief service because of low attendance thanks to the heat, rain, and holiday). I’m not sure if he just had a lot of people who didn’t like it, or if it’s just because he was out of town that we didn’t watch it this week. I hope for the former so I won’t be subjected to this drivel any more.
I keep hoping that I’ll find a job before the next quarter. I tend to plan a quarter at a time, so I keep hoping when I’m doing my planning that it’ll be the last. Two years and 3 months later and I’m still in the same situation. At least I’ve found an outlet for my frustration here, and support in my community with the freethought group.
In the meantime, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and I’ve been doing a lot of reading.
I just finished reading Neil Shubin‘s “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body” which is partly the story of his part in discovering the Tiktaalik fossil that shows an transition between fish and amphibian, which later led to mammals, apes, then humans (in particular, the development of the neck and limbs. It also covers various other aspects of evolution that led to homo sapiens such as the heads, eyes, and ears. It was very easy for a non-biologist to understand and even explained to me why you get dizzy when you’re drunk! (It’s not the effect of alcohol on the brain, it is the addition of alcohol to the inner ear fluids!) I’ve included a link below to Shubin’s lecture that covers the first few chapters of this book.
I’m currently reading “Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?”, a collection of essays and lectures edited by Paul Kurtz. This is the summer book for our Science and Religion discussion group (we chose it for the title which goes so well with the name of our group!). It hasn’t been as interesting as the Schubin book, but it is still an interesting read. There are a lot of names associated with this book, including Richard Dawkins, Richard Feynman, Arthur C Clarke, Daniel C. Dennett, and Niel deGrasse Tyson. There are also a small number of theists arguing their point of view. Mostly the theists come off as ignorant (I found myself disagreeing with their essays before I even looked up who they were, not recognizing any of them by name) and some of the scientists come off as weak on their positions against religion (not for lack of evidence, just for lack of actually making a solid stand on the position) possibly for fear of sounding too contrary. I’ve, thus far, only made it through the first three sections which cover cosmology and god, and creationism vs science. The other sections deal with the conflict between science and religion, science and ethics, science and paranormal claims, science explaining religious belief, and the last section covers accommodating science and religion.
I’ve also got Lawrence Krauss‘ book, “A Universe from Nothing: Why there is Something Rather than Nothing”, which I’m looking forward to very much.
These are in addition to some non-science or religion related books I’ve been reading. I am in the middle of a fascinating history of Bell Labs written by Jon Gertner, “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation”, a fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss, “The Name of the Wind”, first of a three part series he is still writing, and “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin, which I should have read years ago. I have, but haven’t started yet, “The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature” by David George Haskell, who selected a small, square meter patch of old-growth forest in Tennessee, and sat and observed it in silence throughout an entire year and wrote essays about his experiences.
So this is what has occupied most of my time in the past month. I’m badly behind on my blog reading, somewhat behind on YouTube video watching, and very behind on keeping up this blog, but I’ve had a pretty good summer thus far!
- Neil Shubin – Finding Your Inner Fish (youtube.com)
- Is there room for religion in science? (openparachute.wordpress.com)