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June 05, 2007


David Garen


I guess at this point of life, one's thoughts turn to the philosophical. If only people could grasp these fundamental ideas early in life. Why couldn't they? Shouldn't our schools teach such things? Or does one come to such understandings only after many years of life experience?

Seems like if more people had this perspective, we would have fewer ideologues who base their beliefs on flimsy foundations and oversimplifications of the world. And if more people would turn off the bloody television, read some good books, and think about things, maybe we could achieve a collective "higher form of life".

Ah, one can wish and dream and hope ...

BTW ... I will be facing going through a career's worth of books and papers too in a few years ... not looking forward to it ...


Dave Iverson

David G: "f more people would turn off the bloody television, read some good books, and think about things, maybe we could achieve a collective 'higher form of life'."

Today, I have been dreaming of doing what a botanist friend did some years back -- since I've reached the hard decisions part of my clutter-organizing. Here is what he did: After 25 years of teaching, wandering the conference circuit, etc., my friend threw ALL of his office materials out. Didn't even keep the books. He replaced all the clutter with plants. He told me later that the last five years of his teaching career were the best -- freed of the weight of all the paper, teaching in simple attire, and assuming the posture of plant-guru. Another educator-friend, at the same university thought more dimly of the "stunt".

As for me, I plan to move much paper-stuff, boxed to my office at home (to be built next year). Papers will be behind closed doors, just in case I feel inclined to drag a box or two out to rumage through for historical referent.

The books will be displayed on open shelves, as much as anything to serve as a backdrop for the pool table. But also because I like to stare at them when trying to think through problems. I even drag one off the shelf occasionally.

I'll have a computer cluster in a corner with much bigger monitor than here at the office and a laptop, maybe even an Apple I-phone. I'll have a day-bed and simple wicker chairs in another corner, closely assoeciated with a wood-stove, micro-wave, refrigerator, etc. And I'll likely have a great mountain view (assuming I cut out a shed dormer in the second story of my barn where the office is to be) that will be quite unimpaired until they build the projected-to-be-built elementary school in the hayfield next door. There, once settled, I can play on my computer to my heart's delight on any given day or night.


If everyone realised just how complicated and random the world is, they would go insane and lose all hope :P. I think this is part of the reason we tend to group things, create rules etc. Trying to create order in a seemingly orderless world. That is why religion is such a tempting and powerful thing, it offers people an explanation for people and the world.

On the issue of reading that which you disagree with, I've been reading some anti-evolution books lately. Most of them focus on the gaps in fossil evidence to support evolution of humans from apes. Anyway, I only skimmed through them but I can say that they have not much changed my view of creationism, however do offer valid problems with evolution. I mean, one of them claimed that the creation of the earth in 6 days is valid based on general relativity and gravitational time dilation.

David Garen

DAVE: Your planned home office setup sounds really nice. I could never throw away my books because I love books and like to see them on my shelves. I like to glance at them and remember what I've read and where these books have taken me intellectually and spiritually.

TRISTAN: It's sometimes hard for me to read stuff that I disagree with -- it often just makes me angry. While I want to remain open minded, I also wonder how much attention we should pay to nutty ideas and extreme ideologies. Seems to me that we can legitimately ignore some of this stuff. I do find, however, that much of the conflict between differing viewpoints is, at root, due to differing assumptions and worldviews rather than being actually about the topic. The evolution debate is disguised as a scientific controversy by the anti-evolution people (e.g., Intelligent Design) in order to give it legitimacy, but the real issue is not science. The real issue is about worldviews and about concepts of god. And these issues perhaps have an even deeper significance, which you refer to -- "trying to create order in a seemingly orderless world", or, put another way, trying to find meaning and purpose in life. Religion is one solution to this very legitimate need, but it, too, is full of assumptions that need to be examined.

I am convinced that more genuine, deep thought about things coupled with more humility would lead us to a much more peaceful world.

David G.

Dave Iverson

I'm with you David: "more genuine, deep thought about things coupled with more humility would lead us to a much more peaceful world."

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