March (Link) Madness

Before we begin: Here’s a helpful graphic that’s been circulating the interwebs lately in a few permutations.  We can quibble over exact coordinates of different points, but it’s a good starting place.  Please share with your hyper-partisan and/or cluelessly naive friends and relatives to encourage open and honest dialogue.  Fight Fake news. Know who is reputable.

Now, by theme.  Many of these broader topics bleed into each other, so I’ve tried to organize the individual articles within the headings such that they form a sort of continuum both within and between categories.

Science (jokey to serious)

Science’s Love Affair with The Lord of the Rings (Julie Beck, The Atlantic, 13 May 2015): Two of my favorite things–science and LOTR–in one article.

An Ice-Age Squirrel Found by Gulag Prisoners Gets Its Scientific Due (Sarah Jang, The Atlantic, 2 March 2017): All my next favorite things–Russian literature, rigorous science, and cute fuzzy animals.

Trump’s Hair Inspires Name for Newly Discovered Moth Species (Alejandro Lazo, The Wall Street Journal, 20 January 2017): More on taxonomy.  Scientists may be stereotyped as geeky introverts in birkenstocks and  un-ironed shirts, but they can get pretty fiesty when they need to (c.f. the social media handles for Alt National Parks, NASA, EPA, etc.)

 To Catch Prey, Frogs Turn To Sticky Spit (Madeline K. Sofia, NPR, 31 January 2017): This is almost as cool as when they figured out how cats drink.  (“Almost”, because I like cats more than frogs.  Nothing against the research, of course).

I’m not a doctor, but I play one on my CV (Adam Ruben, Science, 18 January 2017): I work in basic research lab in a clinical department at a major university hospital, and this is the constant frustration of the PhDs.  All of us–including the people with PhDs–refer to “real doctors” and “fake doctors” and everyone knows what we mean.  On a more serious note, I’ve heard plenty of women with PhDs introduce themselves as “Doctor Abc Xyz” in rooms full of mostly men–in situations where none of the men introduce themselves as Doctor Anything–presumably in attempt to get people to respect them a little more, even subconsciously.  The glass ceiling is a lot higher than it used to be, but it’s still there.

I’m a doctor who wants to treat addiction, but the rules won’t let me (Douglas Jacobs, The Washington Post, 18 January 2017): Exhibit #78915483, Why Evidence-Based Practice is Really Really Important.

Vaccines Work. Here Are the Facts. (Maki Naro, The Nib, 15 December 2014): This longform informational webcomic has been floating around for a couple years, but lately it’s received a new wave of attention due to comments made by the current president and his campaign staff/administration.  This one is also worth sharing with your honestly vaccine-skeptical or vaccine-uncertain (but probably not vaccine-hating) acquaintances, friends, and family.  It’s written at an understandable level for the lay public, but doesn’t come across as condescending or demeaning to people for having fears or concerns.  This been one of my biggest quabbles with the scientific/medical community in the whole anti-vaxxer fiasco: poor science communication!  Metaphorically SHOUTING at people, calling them stupid, dismissing their views, or even appealing to authority without explaining why doesn’t help.  I understand that after 4 years of college, 4-8 years of grad/med school, and possibly 2-7 years of postdoc/fellowship, it’s hard to accept being questioned about a field in which you are literally an expert by all conventional standards.  But to a worried parent who’s afraid that a vaccine will cause their child to have [bad disease terrible side effect big scary words ahh run away], it’s not just degrees that matter: it’s also personal experience, perceived trustworthiness, and relatability.  This is why mommy blogs have so much power to persuade.

How Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Distorted Vaccine Science (Seth Mnookin, Scientific American/STAT, 10-11 January 2017): On the other hand, there are also a lot of people appealing to authority and using it in complete opposition to evidence-based practice, all too often successfully.

What can the anti-vaccination movement teach us about improving the public’s understanding of science? (Jeanne Garbarino, PLoS, 5 January 2017): At the risk of harping too much on the importance of science communication, “At the risk of oversimplifying the issues related to vaccine hesitancy and rejection, people’s decision’s for themselves and their children might have less to do with the message, and more about how — and in what context — the message is delivered…While it may feel counterintuitive, perhaps we should stop trying to win arguments using the traditional academic approach, with data, error bars, and p-values, as these risk strengthening the emotional appeal of anti-evidence, anti-scientific viewpoints. Instead, we can present data-based conclusions in compelling and effective ways, keeping in mind the connections and disconnections between human emotion and rationality.”  For specific tips on effective ways to talk about (note: not debate) vaccines or other issues of evidence-based practice, see The Debunking Handbook.  For hear some thoughts from someone whose career is dedicated to science communication, give this episode of The Prism podcast a listen.

The Rise and Fall of a Shrimp Biologist (David Scholnick, Scientific American, 9 January 2017): “I guess the moral of my story is that when you mix science and politics, it can be just as cliquey as high school, and if you disrupt the social order, you had better be ready for some lowbrow playground antics.”

How Trump’s refugee ban hurts health care in places that voted for him (Alvin Chang, Vox, 6 March 2017): And the saga of the red state/blue state paradox continues…

Home

The Story Behind TIME’s Year-Long Multimedia Project ‘Finding Home’ (Kira Pollack, photography by Lynsey Addario, Time, 19 December 2016): “Lynsey is a powerhouse—a fierce journalist with a fiery passion to tell the truth about the great injustices of the world. Lynsey is known as a brave war photographer, and has received accolades for her front-line reporting, but day in and day out, she has documented the lives of some of the most voiceless women in the world.”

A Yazidi Refugee, Stranded at the Airport by Trump (Kirk W. Johnson, The New Yorker, 28 January 2017): This wasn’t okay on January 28.  It’s not okay today.  It won’t be okay tomorrow, or the next day, or any time in the next four or eight years, or ever.  Don’t let what was crazy and absurd and wrong yesterday become part of the new norm in the future.  Don’t let it become just another political issue that us regular folks can’t do much about.

Facebook post by Samuel Director (28 January 2017): Thank you for taking a stand, even though, sadly, it puts you at risk of derision and criticism in some Christian communities.  <rant> Unlike another post I recently saw by a pastor of MISSIONS (i.e., the person in charge of reaching out to and caring for people who are not like us) of a church I used to attend basically arguing that Trump’s ban wasn’t that bad at all and didn’t contradict Christian principles of hospitality, love for the other, and generosity to the cast down of society because 1) all the verses in the Old Testament about taking care of widows/orphans/foreigners don’t apply to modern America and 2) if they did, we should take care of them in their own countries but sure as hell not here.  My response was somewhere between a muffled yell and a groan of “don’t confuse exegesis and eisegesis, have you forgotten everything you learnt in seminary??”  </rant>

The Lawyers Showed Up (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 28 January 2017): I’m about as far from a pollyanna as you can get, but at the very least, where there’s a shadow there’s a light.  For all my snide comments about the profession of lawyers, there’s some good ones out there.

Strangers in Their Own Land: The ‘Deep Story’ of Trump Supporters (Shankar Vedantam, NPR, 24 January 2017): Although my opinion on the current administration is probably quite clear by now, this can’t be a one-sided conversation.  People want to come to the US to find home, but there are also people born here who don’t feel at home anymore.  This doesn’t negate the rights of the first group or dismiss the conversation; in fact, it should elevate the dialogue.  And before the liberal-leaning crowd points out that “not feeling at home” is very different from “fleeing from ISIS”, I know.  That’s the point, and also why you should read this article/listen to the podcast.

Meet Me in the Middle

Psychology’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the Job (Jesse Singal, New York Magazine, 11 January 2017): I’ve been skeptical of IATs since I first learned about them in Intro Psych.  This article does a good job of articulating some of the problems with the test itself and also of conclusions drawn from data amassed from the test.  From personal experience, back in Psych 100, it seemed like it wouldn’t be too hard to “trick” the test, so I took one on the internet and found that indeed, it wasn’t too hard to skew consciously.  Could this then have the effect of double-tricking the test?  Yup.

How the FBI Is Hobbled by Religious Illiteracy (Emma Green, The Atlantic, 26 February 2017): Getting a PhD in [xyz religion] studies is useless you say?  Think again.  Clearly, the FBI needs more of such people.  My favorite line of the article: “Although he loves Judaism, actual Jews are a problem.”  Also, moderately related, one of the weirdest things to me about the rising anti-nonwhite (and often anti-non”Christian”) sentiment in the country lately is that it’s being directed at both Jews and Muslims.  I know intellectually that historically both have been targets of bigotry by both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, but the attacks, sometimes physical, on both Muslim and Jewish people and places of worship or gathering has struck me as strangely ironic and tragic.

Why Conservatives Mistrust Even Modest Efforts at Gun Control (David A. Graham, The Atlantic,  2 October 2015): I know that firearm violence and accidents amount to what is effectively a huge public health crisis.  I know that a lot fewer people would be dead if we had no guns or even fewer guns.  I know that in some states guns are much too easy to get, even for many conservative-leaning folks.  But I also am deeply appreciative of the culture of the rural west, which has bled into many people’s (rural or western or not) protectiveness of their ability to own and use firearms.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate well to the legislative halls of urban state capitals or the bench of the Supreme Court, much less thirty second sound bytes on cable news (liberal or conservative).  I don’t know what the answer is other than that as with most things, it’s probably somewhere in the middle.

These Pro-Lifers Are Headed to the Women’s March on Washington (Emma Green, The Atlantic, 16 January 2017): Can we please just converge to the ideal that less abortion is better in general but also that banning it/doing everything but banning it doesn’t actually make it be less.  I think most people–both on the left and on the right–could agree that we would want the fewest women possible to be in the position that they feel like/think/know they need an abortion, but for the ones who do make that decision, it should be safe and accessible (presumably, by being legal).  Minimize need –> minimize abortion.  Everyone is happier and more morally satisfied.  Aka, evidence-based practice.  And so we circle back to our first them of the day.  WE CAN DO BETTER, FOLKS.

Light

When Metal Goes Acoustic: Disturbed On Covering Simon & Garfunkel (Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR, 15 January 2017): Since a lot of the links are pretty heavy, this is a little lighter.  As light as Disturbed can be, anyways.  Fun fact: David Draiman trained as a hazan (like a cantor in Jewish synagogues) and also almost went to law school.  He also has had some pretty interesting interactions with skinhead fans who don’t realize he’s Jewish–perhaps the epitome of “meet me in the middle”.

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Summer 2014

I spent most of the summer working in lab doing this:

Yup, 5% sheep's blood plate. In the words of the grad student in charge of me, "Do I look like I'm going to deal with ox blood?"

Yup, 5% sheep’s blood plate. In the words of the grad student in charge of me, “Do I look like I’m going to deal with ox blood?”

Well, sort of.  For the science-minded, I was trying to make a knockout bacteria.  The bacteria didn’t want to cooperate until literally the last day I was supposed to work–I went into lab a couple hours before I had to leave for the airport and to discover that indeed, the appropriate colonies were growing on my plates.  Moral of the story: real science is never as neat and tidy as you think it should be.

Since then I’ve been home in Seattle.  Is there any doubt that my city is better than yours?  (The answer is no.)

My best friend since kindergarten invited me out on her family's boat for a few days.  I flew out on a float plane with her brother to meet their family in the Canadian San Juan Islands.

My best friend since kindergarten invited me out on her family’s boat for a few days. I flew out on a float plane with her brother to meet their family in the Canadian San Juan Islands.

Even when it's raining it's beautiful.

Even when it’s raining it’s beautiful.

I’m thankful that my boss gave me an extra week off: it gave me time to go boating (doing absolutely nothing for four entire days is actually kind of a beautiful thing) and to have some extra buffer time at the end of summer before school starts.  In theory, the extra time was supposed to help reduce stress.  We’ll see about that.

Here is a current list of things that I find stressful (this is more for my benefit than for yours):

  • Buying textbooks: so. freaking. expensive.
  • My car: I need to do a lot of (hopefully) routine maintenance.
  • My foot: I had a surprisingly decent race on Saturday, but now I’m moderately concerned I have somehow got a stress fracture while I was cooling down.
  • MCAT/GRE/the future: I probably should pay more attention…
  • Work: There’s way too much to do.  I also haven’t quite adjusted to the idea of going off work/study next semester.
  • School starting/leaving Seattle: typical.

Whenever I come back home, it makes me homesick for Seattle even while I’m still here.  And stressed out about leaving.  I like mountains and hills and a temperate climate and trees and runner/cyclist friendly roads and yes even the rain.  I don’t miss a lot of people here, but the people I do miss I miss a lot.  In a way, I suppose those relationships are more special now that I’m gone, since I have to work actively to maintain them, but that’s not particularly comforting right now.  I love the people at my church at school, but I love my church here even more because it changed my life.

One of those friends just wrote me an email that said, “Remember God is right there with you…going before you, standing beside you, speaking within you and holding you up when you need to collapse in Him.”  How prescient that is.

The Semester from Hell/Heaven

This semester is supposed to be the semester from hell.  I’m “only” taking sixteen credits, but I say only because a lot of my peers find it amusing to take nineteen credits simply because they can.  I like having a life.  And sleep.  Mostly sleep.  Biology, organic chemistry, calculus IV (for lack of a more descriptive name), and Chinese.  This may possibly be the worst most difficult semester of my college career.  (Let’s just say that my university doesn’t exactly make lab sciences–especially the pre-med ones–particularly enjoyable).

After one of the best, if not the best, summer of my life back home working in a warehouse (Yes, a female warehouse associate.  No, women don’t need men to lift boxes for them.) and taking 300-level math classes (Yes.  Girls can be applied math majors, too.) at my state university, I was dreading coming back to school, to stress, to stressful people.  I spent most of my socialization time over the summer with my best friends, and I didn’t/still don’t want to leave them.  While most of my peers from college were posting things on Facebook like, “Back on campus finally!  So good to be home!” and “So excited to see everyone in a couple of days!”, I was busy thinking things like “Ugh, I don’t want to leave,” “School is going to suck this year,” and “Why didn’t I just go to school in-state?”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand what an incredible privilege it is to get to go to college.  I wouldn’t trade that for the world.  I just have this weird nagging thought that maybe I made the wrong choice about which college I chose, despite the fact that I’m incredibly grateful that I even had options from which to choose.

Today in church, though, the pastor said something that struck me:

It is not a mistake that you are where you are.  God has put you there to be the salt and the light–now.

Those two little sentences made me think more than the rest of the entire sermon (which wasn’t that long and was rather dry, so I suppose that doesn’t say that much).  Even if my decision was a mistake, there’s still a reason I’m here, doing what I’m doing, now.

This semester should be the semester from heaven.  It’s what I always wanted in high school but never got to have; I’m literally living my dream: all math and science classes, plus finally learning Mandarin.  I’m working in a lab that I love.  The weather will be warm until at least the end of October, probably longer.  I know it will be hard, but I want to choose, daily, to embrace it.  Because not everybody gets to.  And I won’t always get to.  But I do now.

What Happens When Scientists Cook

After all the bad things that happened this week, I thought I’d post something on a lighter note.  One of the grad students in the lab that I work in had her doctoral thesis defense on Friday (of course, she passed).  Afterwards, the lab had a celebration for her, complete with Chinese food prepared by our honorary lab mothers (two of the staff scientists).  What happens when a bunch of microbiologists throw a party?

"Quick, someone take a picture: Maggie is cutting up cilantro with a scissors while wearing a lab coat and gloves!"

“Quick, someone take a picture: Maggie is cutting up cilantro with a scissors while wearing a lab coat and gloves!”

"Are the oranges *supposed* to look like DNA?" ~Everyone

“Are the oranges supposed to look like DNA?” ~Everyone

This is why I love scientists.  Also, in a more general sense, why I love where I work.  When I was first interviewing at the lab, the PI told me, “We’re really just like one big family.”  I was a little skeptical, but it’s actually true.  I’m so blessed to be able to say that going to work is actually one of the highlights of my week.  I love my job ♥

Week 7: Faithfulness

Yeah, so I’m a day late with this post.  I feel like the first three weeks of this series went really well, but since then, not so much.  Fittingly enough, this week’s fruit is Faithfulness–yet another reason to try to hang on for the next couple of weeks.

I actually wrote this post a while ago, but hadn’t gotten up the nerve to post until a couple weeks ago, at which point I decided I might as well wait until the Faithfulness week, since it was sorta-kinda-vaguely-not-really related.


Yes, I know the pronouns they, their, and them should not be used to refer to singular entities.  I’m going to use them anyhow to protect the identities of the innocent.

The first thing I did when I saw my friend was look at their finger.  The ring was gone.

I’d had my suspicions over the past few months, but I couldn’t know for sure.  There were lots of dots, and lots of potential connections, but I was trying to restrain myself from jumping to conclusions–almost as hard as reining in a horse already jumping over a steeplechase.  I dearly hoped I was wrong (how often does that happen?); I hoped I was just being a woman and over-analyzing everything.  In the depths of my heart, I knew I wasn’t.  I don’t really know how I figured it out, but some combination of strange comments, apparently random changes, and slightly odd behavioral patterns led me to my theories.

I awkwardly spent the whole time we were at the coffee shop glancing at their ring finger.  I don’t know if they noticed.  In a way, I hope they did.  It might be less awkward if we both knew that I knew.  On the other hand, I hope they didn’t.  It would be incredibly awkward if we both knew that I knew, but didn’t know how I knew.

The oddest thing is that somehow, I think I started to see this coming maybe two years ago.  I can’t explain it–it was just an odd premonition of sorts that I brushed aside into the corner of my brain labeled “Absurd Drifting Thoughts,” or something like that.  Maybe I’m just crazy.

To be clear, I have no idea what the circumstances of this situation are.  All I have are hypotheses.  For all I know, the ring could be gone because they were using stucco and got chemical burns on their hands and had to have their ring cut off in the emergency room (That’s a real, albeit remote, possibility–I know a guy to whom that happened.)  Still, unlikely.  Even more unlikely than the horse-and-steeplechase scenario.

You’d think that after twenty-five-plus years of marriage, things would work themselves out.  But time and time again, my assumption is proved wrong.  Throughout my life, I’ve gone through periods where I wished I had a dad, but when s*** like this happens, it sort of makes me glad I don’t.  Sort of.

Over Thanksgiving break, I visited a Christian studies class at my old school, and the teacher (actually the head of the school) was talking about Mere Christianity, where C.S. Lewis describes evil not as its own entity, but merely a perversion of good.  This is how I tend to view divorce/separation.  Not as a state in and of itself, but rather as the breaking of the state of marriage.  I am very hesitant to label it “sin,” or even a state resulting from sin.  Instead, I see it as a state resulting from Fallen-ness.  Sure, there are circumstances when divorce can be a sin or be the direct result of a specific sin, but it seems that much more often, it’s the result of our sinful nature.  I suppose that’s why it frustrates me so much.  We can, to an extent, remedy sins.  We can’t remedy the Fall.

In all this, I see so little hope for my future.  How the heck do people make marriage work?  If marriages fail after multiple decades and children, what’s the point?

[Update: I mentioned this situation as in an offhanded comment to a college minister I know, and he had some good insights.  He’s at about the same stage of life as the person this situation concerns, which made his comments all the more interesting.  I think what stood out to me the most, what I had never really considered before, was that, “People change, and after you’ve had kids and they’ve grown up and gone to college, all of a sudden you can realize that you don’t even know the person you’re living with anymore because they’re not the same person you married twenty years ago.  Think about it–how different are you now than you were five years ago?  Because it’s still the same when you’re older.”]


I’m not quite sure what to make of all this, but I thought I’d share anyways.

Right now, I’m madly cramming for a biology exam.  Right now, I’m liking my math major a lot more than my biology major.  As if I needed any more proof, my brand new TI-89 Titanium just arrived in the mail.  Perhaps I should have timed my new toy to arrive after the biology exam.

Week 2: Joy

Yes, that’s my name.  People always tell me, “Oh, your name suits you so well!”  I just smile and nod.

I had never thought of it before, but a couple of weeks ago, I was messing around with online personality tests to see if I could trick them into saying contradictory things about me, and one of the questions said something to the effect of, “You find some enjoyment in probing the depths of sadness.”  It makes me sound like an emo thirteen year old, but in a way, I do.  It’s odd.  Outwardly, I’m not at all an emotional person (I haven’t cried in three and a half years, a fact of which I’m quite proud…for better or for worse), which makes it seem even more strange.  But that’s the way it is.

But moving on, I’ve been thinking about what brings me joy, trying to be thankful.  A lot of things right now don’t bring me joy.  It’s not pervasive depression–and I am thankful for that–but more of a cynicism about my surroundings.  Anyways, I was listening to a sermon online, and one of the things the pastor talked about was truly delighting in God (it was the same sermon in which he spoke about how we ought to love God).  Thus, my list:

  • God.  And I mean this for real, not just because it’s the politically correct thing to say.  I’m trying to make Him the center of my life: and I need to.  In these surroundings, filled with cynicism and skepticism, which are my natural states, I have to turn to something(One) greater.
  • The Church.  This is a big change from a year ago.  Sure, I still disagree with what a lot of churches say/do.  But I found a church back home that radically restored my faith in the institution as it is meant to be.
  • My friends.  I don’t have a lot of them, but the ones I have are amazing people.
  • Running.  I am so grateful for Mr. M., my coach in high school who got me into running in the first place.  I was originally going to play basketball in high school; I’m so glad I went with cross country and track.  I met incredible people along the way, but I could have done that in basketball, too.  More important, I can bring running with me wherever I go, whenever.  Even though I’m not in prime racing condition right now, there is still so much joy.
  • The sunshine.
  • Home.  Good food.  Fire in the woodstove.  Peace and quiet.  My favorite running routes.
  • My job.  It can be tiring, but I am so blessed to have been offered a job in an incredible laboratory on the medical school.  The people I work with are geniuses, but not the annoying type of geniuses.  They’re not at all arrogant and honestly, the lab is like one big family (full of PhDs…).

Why I Love Math and Science

Open all links in this post at your own risk.  That means you, humanities and liberal arts majors.  (In all seriousness, though, some background knowledge is necessary to understand the details of this post.  I think you can understand my point, though, math geek or not.)

As much as I am searching right now, sometimes I find solace in the silliest little things.  Today, it was in the majesty of the created order: one inconceivably weird, the other unimaginably complex and perfect.

I’m in second-year calculus, learning about different types of series and how to identify them and extrapolate information from/about them.  Today’s lesson was on alternating series.  Towards the end of the lecture, this is how the conversation proceeded:

Teacher: “Oh, and this last example here is really weird.  This type of series can converge to multiple values.”

Class: “What?!”

Teacher: [demonstrates on board]

Class: [shock and awe]

Teacher: “I told you, it’s weird.  I don’t even totally understand why it does this.”

Class: “How is that possible?  Could you keep doing it so you get half of that, and then half again, and again?”

Teacher: “Yes, you could do that.  Like I said, it’s very weird.”

Class: [more shocked/confused stares] “But what about graphically?  I mean, if you represented all the points, what would this even look like?”

Teacher: “Go ask your college math teacher.”

Our school is blessed to have a calculus teacher with decades of experience–arguably, one of the best and longest serving in the region.  The fact that he described this mathematical phenomenon (you might even call it a “trick”) as “weird” means that it really is strange.  In a sense, it was like telling us that 1+1=2…and 4 and 6 and 8 and… (not quite that extreme, but you get my point).  But rather than inducing total confusion in my mind (“What?!  I thought math was supposed to be purely black-and-white!  None of those shades of grey!”), my first thoughts were actually, “That is very strange, but very cool, in an odd sort of way.  I wonder why God did that?”

The past couple of days in AP chemistry, we have been slogging through different theories of how atomic bonding works.  It’s interesting, but very confusing at times.  Again, the dialogue in class:

Teacher: “So, up until a few years ago, we thought we understood how the hybridization of octahedral and trigonal bipyramid structures happened, but then scientists did more experiments and now we know that they don’t work the way we thought.  Only problem is, we don’t know how they do work.”

Class: “So we know more, but actually, we know less?”

Teacher: “Pretty much, yes.”

[after a while]

Teacher: “Which do you think is better: the molecular orbital theory or hybridization?”

Class: “Neither?”

Teacher: “Right.  Each describes a different part of the same phenomenon.  Do you think there’s a unifying component?”

Class: “Probably…”

Teacher: “There probably is, but we just don’t know what it is–yet.  But maybe one day scientists will discover something that will give us one theory to explain the whole thing.”

[pause]

Teacher: “So, what does all this information about molecular orbitals and hybridization tell you about God?”

Class: “That He’s bipolar! [laughter]  That He’s not a simple Person.  That His plans are complex.  That He has a really high IQ.”

Teacher: “Every time I study this, I think about how amazing it is that when God was creating everything, He thought of this stuff for the first time ever, and made everything so it worked out.  I can sort of try to understand two theories we have about bonding, but there’s a missing link.  The verse that comes to mind is the one in Isaiah that says ‘Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.’  God made all this for the first time, and He made it so we could learn about it.”

When the teacher started to say “So, what does all this information…”, I thought she was going to ask about how it connects to some other topic–kinetics or reactivity or something.  Her question about God startled me, not because we don’t talk about God in school (we do, it’s a Christian school), but because I wasn’t expecting it in the middle of a lecture about an apparently purely logical, physical topic.  Sure, God comes up plenty during humanities courses and some of the “soft-er” natural sciences (e.g., biology regarding creation/evolution/intelligent design, the Imago Dei, etc.).  But chemistry?  Well, duh, God created the chemical order, too.  It is the “central science”, after all.

Today is one of those days, which have come much more rarely this year than I would like, where I truly love attending a Christian school.  Though sometimes I hate the forced and superficial nature of the discussion, I love being allowed/able/encouraged to discuss any and all subjects in relation to God.  Even if my own spiritual perspective is in a bit of tension right now, it’s encouraging to see teachers express their own beliefs, directly or indirectly, through their subject and their passion for their subject.

So, after all this talk of math and science, I think it would be most appropriate to conclude with a word from Galileo, written in a letter to the Christina, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, in 1615, during the heat of the Scientific Revolution:

“But I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.”