Saturday, November 24, 2007

Scientific Faith

I don't think I could have ever phrased the argument more eloquently! Here's a really good piece on science as faith on NY times. All scientific inquiry assumes that there is an underlying order, and that by using a rational approach to understanding this underlying structure, we as humans can create laws or theories that describe the structure. Math, physics and chemistry try to delve into problems concerning the physical universe, while the science such as economics, sociology and psychology deal with problems with humans. However, is this belief in order, "faith" ? To some extent yes, because, a scientist does begin with the assumption that there is an underlying order/law that governs a phenomenon observed in the real world. Whether, this belief- that there is underlying order is "irrational" is the real question. Many faith based beliefs are rooted in irrationality that ascribes super-human (read divine) characteristics to objects and events. What troubles skeptics such as me is the fact that many religious folks apply the rules of faith to realms of life that are not amenable to such analysis. I am more comfortable when religion and science do the things that they do best, address issues that are within their realm and don't tread on each other's paths. Let there be peace!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nittany Lions to Tarheels

I had spent the first five years of my life in the US rooting for a football team that bordered on being amazing (2005 season) to often mediocre.  Yes, I was referring to the Penn State Nittany Lions.  I always hoped they would beat Michigan, but they never did in my entire five years in happy valley.  I will always watch the big games - Penn State vs. Ohio State and Penn State vs. Michigan, don't get me wrong.  But I have to move on.

Well, I am so glad that my university team is ranked number 1 in the country -  not in football but in basketball. The UNC Tarheels opened this year's season, ranked number one and, as usual are the favorites to win the championship at the end of March madness.  I hope they do.  They came so close to it last year and lost it during the elite eights to Georgetown. I want them to win this year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

On the wall

Says Kafka in his famous novel, "The Metamorphosis",
Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.
which translates (among a lot of versions) to,
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Sometimes, you ought to be self-deprecating, self-loathing to get a different perspective of your own world. Like the insignificant insect on the wall, you ought to observe what goes on around you. Devoid of all meaning, in dark, negative thoughts about life, relationships and the self. Just like Gregor Samsa woke up one day and found that he had turned into vermin, I guess you ought to see the your own world as an insignificant person. We are usually caught up in our self-importance, that often borders on narcissism - a view can only be described as an Hitlerian perception of the self.

Kafka'a Samsa gives us the tool to be the desolate loner, one who is shrinking into a shell characterized by loss, loneliness and despair. Gregor slowly shrinks in size, implying the losing importance of one's own self to a seemingly uncaring world. He is in a self-destructive path, seemingly inevitable decline, an unstoppable end. The sad part, he probably had nothing to do with it. Or, maybe he did. One can never be sure.

I can see how Gregor Samsa would have felt.