(Note: I wrote this page some considerable time ago, and it needs updating. In particular I’m not playing in ridiculous numbers of orchestras these days, and my religious ideas are more agnostic these days. But what I wrote still represents what I think a healthy relationship between science and religion should be.)
You’ll see from my posts here that my interests are quite varied. Here are a few.
I’m a keen amateur violinist and currently play in four local orchestras, leading one of these regularly and another occasionally. I learnt the violin unconventionally, by teaching myself at the age of nine, having lessons later, then subsequently “undoing the damage” as an adult. This may not be the ideal way to learn an instrument, but it’s a brilliant way to become intimately familiar with all aspects of playing technique and why they matter.
I’ve also sung in choirs, but haven’t done much of that lately.
Science has always been a major interest, too. I took a BSc in electronic engineering, mainly out of curiosity as to how on earth electronic gadgetry worked. This taught me that (i) some fun physics was involved, (ii) some horrible maths was involved, and (iii) I definitely didn’t want to become an electronic engineer.
I’m fascinated by good “popular science” writing: I like seeing how someone can make some highly technical area comprehensible to a reader who’s never met any of the ideas before. You can see my attempt at the genre here. And I try to keep up to date with the latest research in a number of areas of science; I actually feel a bit cut off from the world if I don’t.
For me, an interest in science goes hand in hand with my religious (UK Methodist) background. Beginning to learn about cosmology, and the history of the Earth with its vast timescales, was one of the things which convinced me of God’s existence. An understanding of science also, of course, convinced me that literalist understandings of the Bible (and of other scriptures, for that matter) were utterly wrong; the God I believe in is God of the world as it really is, and as studied by science, not of some rival world-view. The real, solid, coherent, physical world around me.
It puzzles me when people say there’s no evidence for God’s existence. As far as I’m concerned, every law of physics is evidence of God’s existence, as is the comprehensibility and rationality of the world, the existence of my own subjective consciousness reflecting on it all . . . It is however subjective evidence, in that other people interpret precisely the same things as evidence that there is no God. The question isn’t whether there’s evidence, but what it’s evidence of.
Since I believe God is truth, which is found in open-minded, honest exploration, I don’t have much patience with the dogmatists at either end of the spectrum: either those fundamentalists who insist Truth is found in the literal content of a book, interpreted their “correct” way, or the closed-minded variety of atheist who insists that religious belief is nonsensical. Both points of view seem superficial to me. I think they ignore the real issues, and both make the fundamental mistake of offering certainty, in an area where certainty is impossible.
I’m particularly interested in the relationship between science and religion, especially that between credible theology and honest science. (I emphatically don’t include so-called “creation science” in this category: as far as I’m concerned it bends the science so far that it isn’t science any more, in order to fit an impossible theology based on reading the Bible in a way the writers never intended.)
You can read a little more about my ideas on science and religion in this post. More will follow.
Maths is an occasional interest: I have a pet maths problem which I work on periodically. I also did a detailed analysis of the maths of violin intonation, in response to feeling that I’d been taught things about it which simply didn’t seem to match my experience when playing. (Example: “G sharp should always be played higher than A flat”.)
I’ve always been fascinated by language, and by the way words work. I like the fine distinctions of meaning between one word and another. I like the way that prescriptive rules of grammar never quite work properly . . . I love the poems of e. e. cummings (who preferred to be called E. E. Cummings), and the way in which he invents new syntax which is often nothing like normal English. I like the fact that whereas various languages have the words fenestra, fenetre, Fenster, ffenstr and so on, English has the word window.
As university I was particularly proud of helping a friend who was a linguistics student to get an “A” for his assignment. He had to explain various errors an English-learner called Giorgio made in his grammar. One was the use of “I de see” for “I don’t see”. I thought the reason was obvious, and said what I thought it was. My friend applied the appropriate lingustics labels to my suggestion and included it in his assignment, which duly came back with the comment “Entirely plausible!” next to “my” bit.
I’ve worked as an editor, proofreader and desktop publisher. If you have anything you would like proofreading or editing, please get in touch.