Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Science Block

On pages 48-49 of The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion, Herman Wouk states:

"A distinguished physicist once gave me a book of his inscribed, 'To Herman Wouk, one of the few who does not write if he does not understand.'  Not true here, alas.  About astrophysics, I am the man on the street.  As a Columbia freshman I registered for an astronomy course, but upon leafing the textbook crawling with calculus, I dropped out fast.  Astronomers, I guess, hear God talk all the time.  In that language, I never will.  Galileo and Newton need no further words of mine."

Wouk is probably more of a science-guy than I am, though!  To be honest, I had a hard time getting into his discussions about science in The Language God Talks.  They just didn't interest me, whereas his discussions about religion did.

I've long been this way about science.  I remember when my fifth-grade teacher was having conferences with each student to discuss grades, and she noticed that I stayed the same in science: in both periods, I got a "B".  She said she had an idea about why I didn't improve in science: because I didn't like it.  And I was like, "Wow, how did you know?!" (And I was not sarcastic in my response!)

There were a few times in my junior high and high school years when I got more into science.  In seventh grade, I studied science diligently and got good grades.  Why?  I think it was because I admired my teacher and wanted him to like me.  He was also my home-room teacher, and so, in a sense, he exemplified to me the challenge of junior high school.  When I was able to answer one of his questions about science correctly, I felt smart.

In eighth grade, I was a diligent student in science.  I even made comic books about the class material in studying for my quizzes and tests!  I think that I was studying hard to be among the smart kids, since I was wanting to impress a particular girl.  But, to tell you the truth, science didn't interest me then.

In high school, I took biology, chemistry, and physics, but they just did not engage me that much.  I usually studied for my biology and chemistry exams the day of the exams!  Regarding physics, I tried much harder, since it was Advanced Placement, but there were some physics problems that I simply could not figure out!  One science class that I actually enjoyed, however, was physical science.  This was true for a variety of reasons.  For one, I felt smart in that class, since I had an edge in the first semester of it, having already taken chemistry.  Second, the material was understandable to me.  It wasn't over my head.  Moreover, I was becoming more religious, and so I was excited about studying God's creation, without overdoing it by getting into territory that was too complex for me!

Math came easier for me.  I one time took an IQ test, and my math IQ turned out to be above average (not off-the-charts genius, but above average).  I took lots of math----Algebra I-II, Geometry, Analytic Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus----and I did quite well in my classes.

Yet, when I entered college, and I had the option of skipping a subject area, I skipped science and math altogether.  I was required to take a quantitative reasoning class, so I took logic.  And, in the Honor Scholars' Program I was in, I had to take a seminar on science and postmodernism, but that class didn't get into the depths of science that much, so I did fine.

Science still does not interest me a great deal.  Try as I might, I have difficulty getting into nature shows.  They just don't interest me.  I prefer to watch documentaries about history, politics, and religion----the adventures and struggles of human beings!  I get more interested in science when it is tied into religion, however.  I enjoy reading different perspectives on creation and evolution, for example.  In college, I read on my own time a debate on creation and evolution between creationist Duane Gish and evolutionist Ken Saladin, and I was fascinated by what Saladin was saying.  Whenever some of my more scientifically-inclined friends discuss with me their views on the interaction between astronomy and religious issues, I'm usually interested.  But, when the topic is science alone, I tend not to get excited.

I have contemplated, however, reading more elementary books about science.  My religious beliefs hold that nature somehow reveals the mind of God, and I have thought that perhaps studying science on a superficial level could help me to arrive at a greater appreciation for the order and beauty within nature (though not all of nature is orderly and beautiful!).

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