Changing Minds


Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and encouragement in my work here. You all had interesting questions, ideas, and fears. Just to clear a few things up, I’m here as an observer, one who is learning about the region more and more every day, but also one who admits to not knowing all the issues or the answers.
My concerns come mostly when I see people from home write that they are truly afraid. Conservative Muslim groups are indeed gaining power throughout this region, this is true, but please understand conservatism, the role it plays in people’s lives, and try not to place people in pre-conceived groups.
From what I know of Islam, it is a beautiful and peaceful religion. What is not so beautiful and peaceful is the economical situation here in the Middle East. Life is tough, unemployment is high, governments are corrupt, and to throw oil on the fire there is a form of modern colonialism throughout the region.
My desire is that people start to see hope in the region, both those in the West and those who live here. Change needs to start in our minds as much as theirs.

Posted January 31st, 2006 in Uncategorized.

12 comments:

  1. garyoke_in_nh:

    Changing Hearts and Minds

    Let me respond to Lau here, since I had no luck (and lost my comments) when trying to post on Hope In Sight.

    First, I assure you Lau, that your English far exceeds my Dutch which is limited to some lyrics off of an old Jacques Brel “musique d’or” record. You expressed yourself very well. Second, it may surprise you to know that I agree with just about everything you said.

    As an American Jew who has long argued for recognition and the rights of the Palestinian people I truly can understand the frustration and anger that lead up to the election of Hamas. Fatah’s leadership was not very productive these past few decades.

    Nonetheless, I am concerned about the strident militancy of the Hamas movement. I understand that such a political philosophy may not represent a large segment of the Palistinian people. Yet just as you noted, the Bush presidency makes policies, appointments, goes to war represanting its own philosophy – and it matters little that about 60% of the American people do not support him at this time. Hamas is now in a position to make its own policies, appointment and wars.

    American too have their own sensitivities when it comes to religious commentary. When the Beatles sang Christ you know it ain’t easy, the record was pulled from the airwaves. When Sinead O Connor ripped up a picture of the pope on television, it ended her career. When the artist Serano exhibited his art piece Piss christ, showing a crucifix in urine, it provoked outrage and boycotts. And I know many people who will never say The Lords Name In Vain – Christ you know it ain’t easy – despite my own personal belief that the Lord in his all knowing wisdom probably has some flexibility as well as a sense of humor about these things.

    This response though similar is very very different from the response we are witnessing by a small though strident part of the Muslim world in reaction to the insensitive publication of the Danish cartoons of their prophet. Put Jesus in a political cartoon and you won’t read as you did from Hamas, calls for beheadings, assassinations, and burning of embassies. This is the fringe terrorist response that scares me.

    The world is in desperate need of Love and Mercy. Thank you Jim and Annah for all of the work and effort you are doing to achieve this.

    Vrede

  2. Girish:

    Vrede, I appreciate your perspective. I am responding solely to your comments on the reaction to the Danish cartoons. While I don’t condone the extremis Islamic reaction to the cartoons, I do however believe that the cartoons in themselves are quite a provocation.

    Note that I can think of two similar incidents in history, where I’ve thought differently. One, is of course Rushdie’s book, Satanic Verses, which I might add is one of the best books written in our age, in my opinion. That book took a poke at the origins of Islam, very very subtly, I might add (because it never once used the name of the religion or the prophet). Rushdie himself was born Muslim, and he became atheist when in college. The reaction of the Ayotallahs was deplorable — I’m certain that they didn’t even read the book. And, here, I am categorically on Rushdie’s side.

    Second, when I was growing up in India in the 80s, I remember there was an article in the local Sunday newspaper, named “Mohammad the Idiot”. Now, this was a story about just an ordinary man named Mohammad (not the prophet, mind you), who had some mental problems, which made him a bit slow. And, the story was really an empathisizing tale of humor and sensitivity. However, the local Muslims in my city reacted in anger, because the cretinish character portrayed in the story had the same name as their prophet. They, in fact, went to the author’s house and stoned it. Again, I was behind the author on this one.

    However, the Danish cartoon incident seems different to me. That Danish newspaper seems to have printed these cartoons solely because they wanted to express their “right” to print it. If an artist is to incorporate religiously sensitive material in an art, as a means to the goals that he wishes to attain (as in Rushdie’s case, for example), then power to him — I wish him the best. But, in the Danish case, the goals were merely to prove that one can print religiously sensitivie material — this turns out to be just a provocation.

    I am secular and agnostic myself. I believe that the beauty of secularism is in the tolerant and respect for other religious ideologies. As I see it, the Danish incident seems to put this secular ideology in equal footing against the fundamentalistic religious ideology — it seems to claim that secularism is superior to other religions, just as fundamentalists tout their religion’s superiority. In this regard, I am also opposed to the French schools prohibiting Muslim girls from wearing their burkas — this is an assertion of secularim’s supremacy, which will do nothing but endanger the very foundation of secularism. So, I believe that the whole Danish turns out to be a provocation, and not at all an expression of art. There was no story for which they wanted to use these cartoons; they were made solely for the purpose of demonstrating that they can.

    PS: In this regard, check out this view from a cartoonist at the Washington Post — I totally agree with him.

  3. Bekah:

    Are the artist’s goals really that different than those of the newspaper? How does one go about judging that? Do we really know the heart of the artist who places a crucifix in urine? I believe that what the newspapers printed was so wrong, lacking in grace and kindness, and is not justifiable. In our world today, we are so “intellectualized” that we forget to be human. We forget that some things are worth calling right and wrong as opposed to hiding them behind a veil of intellect or art. I think we miss something very important if we do not courageously address the extreme amount of anger we see by the radical Islamists. As Gary pointed out, we would not see the same reaction to a cartoon poking fun at Christianity or Judaism. Why not? That is a question that I think is worth asking and focusing on. I’m so exhausted by our politically correct society which does not allow us to call the kettle black. Unfortunately I am made even more ignorant by a media that only chooses to promote what is in it’s interests. Why aren’t we hearing from the Muslim community about what is happening? I think they are speaking but are not given a voice. Jim and Annah–thanks for the voice you give.

  4. Lau:

    A few loose remarks on both Girish’s and Gary’s posts. It will not be a very well written essay.

    First Girish: ‘Vrede’ means ‘ Peace’ in Dutch. Am glad this is one of the words Gary knows in my language, since most only know ‘apartheid’ and the Dutch shouldn’t be very proud of this.

    Gary, I am impressed you know Belgian Jacques Brel. Don’t think many of your fellow Americans do. Probably only famous in The Netherlands, Belgium and France.

    Well know for the Danish cartoons. To begin with, it surprises me the uprising didn’t start till a few months after the first publication. Hope somebody can explain. I totally agree that the first Danish publication was nothing more than a provocation; I am not yet sure about the relevancy of the motives the Spanish, German, British, French, Flemish and Italian newspapers had for printing them this week. Sign of support. To stand up for freedom of speech. Those were the arguments used. But freedom of speech is not unlimited and endless. Cartoonists, column writers and stand up comedians, who play an important role in stimulating and enhancing debate and therefore democracy, should now when they are crossing borders. Using drawing or texts that may be received as being provocative should only be used (I purposely dont say allowed) when part of a broader context to clarify, stipulate or illustrate one’s opinions, stories or thoughts. As a singular non-balenced statement they do nothing but provoke, tempt unwanted reactions and enhance segregation.

    A little clarification on my opinions on how people deal with their religion. I have no problems at all when people stand up for what or whom they believe in. If you truly think tearing the Pope’s picture apart is something that is wrong and you feel offended by it: speak out! You might even go to court (who will hopefully deny your claims), but dont loose yourself in agressiveness. But most important: do not try to impose your private religious beliefs on others that think differently. Be tolerant, know and respect that not everyone has the same religion (actually even within religions people give different meanings to their convictions; am certain only a few of the Catholics out here are supportive of the Pope) and therefore different beliefs and values. Because of this politics should be secular, societies should not necessarily. Only In a country with a true secular system, pluralism can prevail. Why not wear a Niqaab or turban when you work in a library?

  5. garyoke_in_nh:

    What a great blog!

    Girish – Rashdie has been on my mind a lot lately. The fatwah issued against him was a singular event that galvanized the world at the time. How did we get from that singularity to where we are now? What is it within certain sectors of the Muslim community that triggers such vengenful responses? I remember trying to read The Satanic Verses when it was originally published, but in all honesty, the allegorical references made me feel out of my depth. I didn’t have the background to fully appreciate the artistry of the novel. Perhaps it is time to re-visit this work.

    Lau – thank you for your kind words. As for the long time between the original publication of the cartoons in October by Jyllands-Posten and the response – – the NY Times has an article in today’s paper that addresses this. Apparantly the cartoons resulted from the publisher’s daring cartoonists to create these images, accusing them of backing away from satirical references to Islam in a manner that they would not do if the issues were Judeo-Christian. Several cartoonists refused to participate. Other provided images ranging from the infamous cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb turban, to others that poked fun at Danish immigration officials, the Danes infamous fear/distrust of foreigners, and others were rather harmless straight forward images. Nonetheless, it should be noted that there is little question about the provacative nature of this publication. As the writer notes, no American papers would have considered publishing charactures of Black americans during the civil rights struggle.

    A group of danish fundamentalist clerics attempted to meet with the Prime Ministrer fro several months, seeking an apology for the cartoons. The clerics were rebuffed repeatedly. At that point they returned to the middle east, seeking to drum up support by showing the offensive cartoons and by providing additional images that never appeared in Jyllands-Posten including images of the prophet as a pedolphile, a pig, and a participant in bestiality. Again – this is what is being reported – I cannot substantiate these claims. The writer concludes that poking fun at the religious establishment is something that goes back to Voltaire and the Enlightenment – BUT in this case there was clear provocation by fundamentalists on both sides of the issues. The Danes apparantly have quite a history for xenophobia.

    American comedian Albert Brooks chose a very poor week to open his film Looking For Humor In The Muslim World.

    bekah – Hi! I agree with your comments too – I’ve got a pretty open mind when it comes to artistic expression, but I recently saw a movie, well publicized and apparantly highly regarded by a large group of people that I found morally repugnant and vile. The problem, as I see it, is not in calling the kettle black but recognizing that there are many, many shades of gray between white and black. People see things differently. Is there an absolute human or godly rightness or wrongness? I don’t know. I am still waiting for someone – anyone – to reconcile the difference in the way God is portrayed in the Old and New Testaments. I mean, I’m glad the Jews were freed from slavery, but do I really think God killed the Egyptian first borns to achieve that….? And that’s only the Judeo-Christian understanding of God. Call me Ishmael.

    I keep thinking back to Jim’s earlier post – -the words “Hitler Hak” – -a match, a flame. I still fear the region might ignite. I suggested to Jim earlier today on IM that Iran might provide the tinder. There is too much happening, too quickly. The electronic world we’re living in does not allow enough timne to process information as it comes in. Jim wrote today that a Muslim he met on a bus thought that the community should have just shrugged the entire cartoon incident off, and perhaps would have if they felt a little more secure in their reltationship with the West. I hope we get to that point.

    Let’s hope and pray that the greater Moslim community rises in one voice for moderation and discussion.

  6. bekah:

    Gary, thanks for your thoughts. I feel a little out of my league on this blog–clearly I am the most uneducated in world history and politics. I agree with you that the world is full of shades of gray, but I say again, SOME things are worth calling black and white. I’m convinced that part of the reason our world is in the dire state it’s in today is because we are so wishy washy (blaming myself here too) and can not recognize black and white. Much damage has been done by many in only seeing black and white, but there is a time and a season for it. In my opinion, there has to be some absolute truth. Why are we so afraid of that? It’s wrong to burn embassies. It’s wrong to provoke with mean and disrespectful cartoons. I don’t suppose to be the decider of truth–if there isn’t truth then what is the point of anything? Whoa–can of worms anyone?

  7. girish:

    All: this is a very constructive conversation we are having. Jim, thanks so much for providing this forum.

    Bekah — when I refered to the difference between an artist and the newspaper, I was referring to the intent in this situation. For example, Rushdie’s book is such a complex novel with stories within stories (gary, I can totally understand that you couldn’t appreciate the context of the novel — it has a lot of annotations and connotations to India and Indian, and British-Asian cultures; I hope you can gather more in your second read). Anyway, the prophet story in Rushdie’s novel is just one of the stories hidden within the many exterior stories. The core of the novel is so much more complex than just Islam or the prophet — that is just a small part of the story. And, even that story is a profound yet humorous meditation about the origins of a religion. So, in that, Rushdie never wrote a novel that solely criticized the structure of the religion.

    On the other hand, if someone wrote a passionate novel critiquing some aspects of a religion, then I will embrace that novel with open arms too. But, the Danish incident is not even that — as gary pointed out, the newspaper called for caricatures of Mohammad just so that they believe that they had the “right” to print them — there was no over-arching goal. This is where I feel the Danish were trying to assert that their secularism was superior to a religious ideology, Islam in this case.

    Of course, I do not at all condone the Muslims’ reaction of torching down embassies. If I think about Islam, and the religion I knew growing up (remember, India houses the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world, and a LOT of my friends growing up were muslims), I can never equating Muslims with extremist reactions. Then, of course, there was the whole Rushdie scandal and that incident about the local news article I talked about in my last post. All this is disturbing …

    But, you have to understand Islam. In many ways, I feel that that the religion needs some reform to help the Muslims themselves. For example, Salman Rushdie himself was born Muslim, but he couldn’t critique the religion himself. I look at this religion as originating to support the down-trodden people: this is true for Islam in the time when Mohammad created the religion; was true when the Mediterranean muslims were conquered by the Christian rulers from Europe in the middle ages; and was true for the Black Americans when Malcolm X embraced the religion. In this setting, it gives power to the mullahs and the rich Muslims who can feed into the insecurity of the poor people that feel victimized. It has always been that radical Islam shined the brightest in the face of adversity. So, yes, I believe that the religion can do with reform, but by whom, that is the question!

    In this context, I would encourage you all to read this book by Amin Maalouf — Leo Africanus. It is a beautiful tale of an explorer from Granada in the 15th century; as he says in his own words, he is a Muslim from Granada, from Fez, and a Catholic from Rome. I loved it.

  8. garyoke_in_nh:

    There is so much rich content in these posts that I’ll have to alow some thoughts to percolate a bit – but I would like to comment on bekah’s suggestion of absolute truth. (Oh come on bekah – you’ve sat through faculty meetings!)

    To state that there is no absolute truth is self-contradictory. As someone (Godel?) pointed out, the very statement presents itself as an absolute truth. Nonetheless, the very idea of absolute truth gets me very, very nervous – I mean, whose absolute truth? In classroom discussions of bioethic I talk about the importance of examining the goals, rights, and duties of all the players facing a particular situation. The Danes felt they had a duty to publish the cartoons to demonstrate freedom of speech, and it could be argued that they had the right to do so. Yet their goal, as girlish notes, was indeed questionable and presents serious ethical questions. The clerics had goals of ensuring the continued respect for their prophet, and the prevention of further sacrilage into the presentation of any images of him. They certainly had the right to stage prostests of some kind. Whether they had the right to present additional images never published is questionable. What was their goal? Did the have a duty to excercise restraint? Or was their absolute truth, the truth of the Qu-oran, defining their duty to rise against the images? Did they have a duty to excercise restraint? Did the Danes have a duty to solicit and publish the characatures to ensure free speech? If not, would oppressed peoples have the duty and right to publish characatures with the goal of provoking the masses in order to rise up against a fascist dictatorship? (Let’s say the Nazis – if there is absolute truth, I think that everyone would agree that they were bad guys! And didn’t they have their own truth – the words forged into the gates of Dachau – Arbeit Mach Frei – work will make you free.)

    I understand that absolute truth and the time and season for stadning up and asserting one’s beliefs are ideas deeply imbedded in the christian faith, but please recognize that the intransigency of moral convictions also gave us centuries of pursecution and slavery. (and apartheid – there Lau, I’ve picked up your cue to increase my use of Dutch by 100%!) I would love to hear girlish’s perspective on this as well, since the British Empire established its empire on the absolute truth of its supremacy, foisted its abolute truth on India until a single man with the the goal of establishing a different truth excercised his right to make salt without the duty of a British tax, with the goal of creating a social rebellion, albeit a peaceful one.

    The conflicts within notions of truth are extreme – is murder ever justified? What if I witness someone torturing my children – do I have the right and duty to murder their torturer if my goal is preservation of their lives? Did Jean Valjean have the right to steal loaves of bread to feed his children? Does religious convictions justify ritual circumcision of all male children? Do African muslims have a similar right to perform circumcision on their female children?

    When Darwin proposed his theory of evolution it created tremendous social unrest. Not for the public notion that he posited a universe without God – he did no such thing, at any point in his lifetime. Evolution was greeting in Britian as a dangerous idea precisely because it proposed that there was no absolute truth, no static order, in life. By suggesting this he was undermining the very structure of British society, the very notion that certain groups of people are preordained to lead, to seek education, to own land, and to rule. If any Britain was capable of this, British society could crumble. It was a truth Great Britain could not face.

    Does the bible present absolute truth, or equally profound metaphorical truths? Did Joshua truly stop the sun in the sky? Did the earth subsequently fling out of its orbit ending days and nights and time as we know it? If Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel, where did the rest of humanity come from? One of the interesting differences in Judaism and Christianity is the centuries long running commentaries from rabbis on talmudic law and scriptural interpreation. It is a written record of discussion, analysis, opinion, of seekers of truth that has run for centuries. It is discursive, argumentative, instructive, and very often, contradictory.

    Is it possible to know the truth? the history teacher at my school routinely has some teachers enact a serious dramatic incident in his classroom (a mock assault, a crime etc.) The studentsare given an assingment to write the historic record on what happened. They wait a few days and write it again. And again. Like a game of telephone, the factual accountings differ dramaticaly over time – in tone, in content, in information presented – – in truth. What is history? It is simply the record of the conquerers over the vanquished. Re-read American history in the wonderful book A Peoples History Of The United States to gain an entirely different perspective.

    It’s a fascinating topic – and there are many times when I wish that I too had the faith and conviction of absolute truth. But what’s true for you may not be true for me.

    Peace and Love on this no school day (the power went out)

    Gary

  9. bekah:

    Lau, Gary, and Girish-it’s fascinating for me to part of such a discussion, and I feel glad that while we clearly all have different beliefs and ideas, we are able to talk in a way that is kind and honoring of one another as human beings. This to me is one of the greatest gifts people can give each other! Gary, your comment about faculty meetings made me laugh out loud, and you stink for getting the day off today! Hehe! No, I’m happy for you!

    Back to absolute truth. There is definitely way too much here for me to adequately respond too. I’m not even sure I understand it all yet (I’m a slow learner). The comment “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” I’m not picking on you Gary, for I myself have made that comment, but it nevertheless allows us to escape from wrestling with what is true. That is what I think I am most afraid of, and it is the theme of what I am trying to say. I’m more afraid of living in a society where everyone gets to decide their truth flavor of the day, and we all have to politically correctly acknowledge that. I guess ultimately this question begs another, which is, who sets the moral tone? Who is the decider of truth? My faith, and the beautiful, perfect, creation around me tells me that it is God. If God did not exist, then what is the point of truth or morals or loving? What is the motivation? Why do we care when our spouse yells at us? Why does it hurt when our children cry? These feelings serve no evolutionary purpose that I can think of, and yet they totally matter. My day sucks when my husband is mad at me. Is there no absolute truth to be found in the human heart? I feel scared of that, and yet have no idea how to say one has truth and the other does not. Ugh. Now I’m just rambling. Maybe I’ll be more coherent later. Besides, I’m being called to make dinner! That’s the truth 🙂

  10. garyoke_in_nh:

    It has been a great joy reading these shared comments – and I promise to keep this one fairly brief! Sincere apologies girish for the unfortunate spelling error in my last post!

    OK – I would never, and have never, argued against the existance of God. In a supreme irony, I find myself closely aligned with the Roman Catholic church on evoluton. Cardinal Paul Poupard, the Vatican spokesman for science and theology stated that the faithful should listen to science to end the “mutual prejudice”…”The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity.” The Cardinal went on to declare that evolution is more than hypothesis; it explains how change occured in life on earth but does not explain the underlying mystery of God’s creation.

    This I believe: Faith is the expert voice in humanity, and I believe that is the essence of your observations bekah. While I could digress explain the evolutionary advantages of caring about Toby and Noah’s cries/annoyances, don’t worry – I won’t! It’s far easier to suggest you rent March Of The Penguins, which Noah would enjoy too! On a much more personal note, let me just say that I have experienced Gods love in my marriage to your Mom. I do not question Grace and Love. I have experienced its power.

    But – here’s my main thought for the night – your Mom and I were just listening to a program on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Germany theologian who stood up to the Nazis. Very profound teaching and thoughts on Christian community and ethics. The key point was that while Bonfoeffer was writing his work on Christian Ethics, he lead a life of lies and duplicity, signing documents with a Heil Hitler, while working with a Christian resistance plotting for the assassination of Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer did this outside of the church, which he believed to be complicit in the operations within the German reich.

    Ultimate pacifist? Ethicist? Theologican? Assassination? What is absolute truth? (on that note, I think I’ll watch a Seinfeld DVD)

  11. girish:

    Gary, bekah: nice to hear your thoughts. I have two things to say:

    1) Gary, you mention the duty of either the Danish or the Muslims to either publish images or revolt against the caricatures. You mention that each of them consider it their duty, and part of their absolute truth. Then you go on to say that this intransigence to once truth has led to civil strifes from the beginning of time. I couldn’t agree more. Interestingly, if you take the Hindu holy book – the Bhagvad-gita, it’s morals and lessons are very much in line with what you say about absolute truth and duty. A brief intro — In this episode, Arjun, the “righteous” one, is preparing for battle against his own cousins, who are portrayed as the “evil ones” in the book. But, Arjun cannot get himself to go to war with his own cousins, and to think of the ensuing bloodshed. Lord Krishna, who happens to be Arjun’s charriot-rider than advices Arjun, and this advice is the Bhagvad-gita — the essence of the advice is that every man has is own duty, and there is this absolute truth. No matter how painful it may be to execute this duty, he expounds that Arjun was brought into this world to fulfil this duty, which in other words is “go to war”. If I were to express myself amongst Hindus, I’d probably get killed, but I detest this teaching just because of its claim to absolute truth, and it’s inevitability to go to war to crush the evil ones. It’s not so much the book, but over the ages, it has been used as perfect rhetoric of kings and princes and politicians to inflict war upon the other. I see that all religions, whether Hinduism, Christianity or Islam have this inherent “do your duty” thing, which may be spiritually enlightening, but is more often than not mis-construed by the humans, and more depressengly abused by those in power. Now, I hear your arguments for God in the context of Christianity; it is as soothing as the stories I hear of God in Hinduism: that is the dilemma for me then — can there be these disparate sub-sects of God who seem to be so opposed to each other? From my own experience, this is what turned me into an agnostic.

    2. Now, turning to science and the absolute truth. We know that science if anything at all can lay a claim to an absolute truth, if there is one. Einstein said something very interesting in this regard, “Nobody who has really gone into the matter will deny that in practice the world of phenomena uniquely determines the theoretical system, in spite of the fact that there is no theoretical bridge between phenomena and their theoretical principles” — meaning to say that the goal of science is to uncover the absolute truth; but he adds that there is no way of verifying that you have attained this truth (i.e, the theoretical bridge). But, he also says, “Evolution has shown that at any given moment out of all conceivable constructions a single one has always proved itself absolutely superior to the rest.” — that is, mankind has never known the absolute truth, even if he possesses it. The hypotheses to explain a given phenomena changes all the time — with each new millenia, the older hypothesis are refined by newer one. My favorite example is Newton’s laws of gravity, which have stood its ground for a few centuries now, but its weakness is that it does not explain motion outside this planet. String theory, a new hypothesis in physics aims to fix the weakness of gravitational laws; and, if they succeed, Newton’s laws may well become null and void. My point is that even if there is an absolute truth in science, we as scientists may never grasp it and never know it.

    An even more stunning example is in Mathematics. At least we know that Physics is an explanation of observable phenomena; but math is a construction of man — there are no unknowns. But, even in this field there are famous open, unsolved problems that mathemeticians are grappling with. An institute has in fact offered to award a million dollars to any one who can solve even one of these ten problems. This amazes me — this is our own creation, yet we cannot understand it.

    My point is that if there is an absolute truth at all, we as humans may never know it. This is true with the most objective of domains of human knowledge (i.e, mathematics, physics); then, what can we say about absolute truth in the most subjective of human knowledge — ie., personal relations, arts, politics, etc? Being a scientist myself, this has influenced my outlook of the world tremendously.

  12. garyoke_in_nh:

    Girish – Quick thoughts –

    1. Absolutes in science? E=mc2? Yet ‘c’ has been exceeded in the lab. Now what?

    2. Truth cannot be observed because the act of observation itself changes the nature of the event.

    3. Truth is relative to the point of view of the observer viz., Einstein.

    4. Re: Math – yeah yeah, Fernald’s Theorem…you know, I had the most eloquent solution for that, and I wrote it down in the margin of a book somewhere…..:>)

    5. Are you familiar with Bob Dylan’s song With God On Our Side? He sings through a litany of historic wars where having god on “our side” served as justification for entering the battle. The culminating verse ends with the couplet “but if god is on our side, he’ll stop the next war”. Great stuff.

    (Jim ye better publish another picture man – -this blog is gettin’ t’be l-o-n-g.)

    Vrede –

    Gary

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