I have two important links to post. First, my wife was in the newspaper again! (remember this post in July?) This time she wasn't surveying trees, but teaching students about teaching. Click here to read the article.
Second, Barack Obama continues to impress me. I'd recommend either reading or listening to his speech on race & politics in America if you have not checked it out already. Let me know what you think of it.
This photo (above left) is to "prove" that I am not my brother (and vice versa), no matter what his students might say. And this certificate (above right) is a reminder that, despite how it might seem some days, I am not an idiot (or wasn't as of 2002).
When I got home tonight there was a message on our answering machine from the former governor, Bob Erlich. Now, it wasn't really from him, but it was his voice saying, "I hope you'll join me in voting for my friend John McCain" in tomorrow's primary. He went on to talk about tax breaks and the fight against radical Islam. Sorry, Bob, I'm tired of the fear & war propaganda. Oh and by the way, I'm a registered Independent.
Unfortunately that means I won't be able to cast a vote for Barack Obama tomorrow either. He was in Baltimore tonight for a rally, one year and a day since he formally announced his decision to run for president. Mennonites in the U.S. have traditionally stayed out of politics and many don't vote. Although I have retained some political skepticism, I do exercise my right to vote when I can, and partially regret that I can't tomorrow.
Anyway, not too surprisingly, Barack Obama really impressed me tonight, and I think this is the first time I've seen a presidential candidtate in person. It was refreshing to be able to laugh with a politician instead of laughing at one. Obama remarked tonight that he often meets Republicans at his rallies who shake his hand and in a low voice say, "I'm a Republican." "Okay!" he replies, pausing to give them a questioning look, "Why are we whispering?"
Obama's platform is centered on change, and early in his speech he commented, "I cannot do it by myself." He challenged the audience saying (approximately), "If the American people elect me and then do not themselves work for change, it won't happen." He continued (again approximately), "We love to sit on our couches and complain about politicians, but all of us need to be willing to work and speak (to our congressional leaders) for change if we are to bring it about."
Listening to Barack Obama speak, it was hard not to feel like we might be on the verge of something big - a moment, as he says, where our generation leaves its mark on history. His message was of hope, courage and hard work. There was no message of fear, but one of collaboration and diplomacy. I didn't have my camera, but I was able to catch his closing remarks with my PDA which you can listen to and/or read here.
Despite a lack
of specific preparation, the four of us representing the University
of Maryland School of Medicine today in the annual contest, "Doctors'
Dilemma" at the
Maryland ACP Scientific Assemby, walked away proud. Led by Dan
Suzman, we competed against a team from that other
school in Baltimore and a team of students (from differnet schools) on
rotation at Harbor Hospital. The Harbor Hospital team, like
last year, won the student round and the right to proceed in the tournament
against the residents' teams. We were thrilled to have beaten Hopkins and
to have given respectable competition to the Harbor team (who probably
has been studying for weeks!). The Final Jeopardy round did not change
the standings but left JHSOM with zero points, reminiscent of that legendary
1890's football match where U of M (a team of medical, law & dental students)
defeated JHU, five to nil.
I have ridden the the bus 4 times this week. Only once was I able to pay my fare. The other three times the money machine on the bus was not working, as indicated by the folded up pass stuck in its slot. On one hand, as a student it's nice to save a couple bucks here and there, but Baltimore's public transportation is bad enough without them giving out free rides. Part of the reason I ride the bus occasionally (as opposed to just walking or riding my bike) is to pay my fare and support the cause of public transit. But they won't let me! A similar thing happened to me back in November or December. There was a week where I rode the bus about 10 times. I think I might have paid three fares.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way. A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
I first pondered the idea of evolution in 10th grade biology class at Lancaster Mennonite. Mr. Good was not trying to shipwreck our faith, but as a biology teacher, he thought it necessary to teach us what scientists had been observing and learning about living things. He never pretended to have all the answers. However, he did point out that the Bible is not a science textbook, and that science textbooks do not attempt to answer questions of faith. Although interconnected for some, the fundamental questions addressed in these texts are different. The Bible does not explain how God created, but simply that God did it. Science textbooks rarely mention God, not because science is incompatible with faith, but because the focus is more on how the natural world (or universe) works than on why we (and the universe) exist. This was emphasized again by the faculty who taught my Ecology & Evolution course at UMBC, making it clear that the work of an evolutionary biologist did not preclude faith, religion or spirituality.
For me the idea of evolution being part of God's creative process is profoundly fascinating. In the same way that my mind is boggled contemplating the far reaches of outer space, evolution and the millions of years involved simply astound me. Perhaps God is even more amazing and mysterious, not to mention patient, than we previously imagined!
Evolution as a mechanism can and must be true. But that says nothing about the nature of its author. For those who believe in God, there are reasons now to be more in awe, not less.