Monday, August 28, 2006

What is faith?

The spring issue of the RPI alumni magazine featured a balanced story on how students of different faiths integrate that faith into their daily lives at RPI. The story included this statement:
"“The world is telling you that science and faith don'’t go together, that God couldn'’t have done all of that," says Kristen Clark '09, a physics major from Michigan who heads outreach for the Rensselaer Newman Catholic Fellowship. "Part of what is great about RPI is that you can learn that these things go together. It'’s a struggle. Science can't explain everything."
That statement was apparently too much for one RPI graduate, who responded with a letter to the editor in the latest edition of the magazine.
Science Can Explain Everything

I read recently with some dismay your cover story on spiritual faith in the Spring '’06 Alumni/ae Magazine. I think it unfortunate that you chose to feature twice in that article a particular quote by Kristen Clark '09 (both in the third paragraph of the article as well as in a legend to one of the figures).

I am referring to the following sentence: "“Science can'’t explain everything."

I firmly disagree. Science can and will eventually explain everything. The simple fact that science has not yet explained everything does not automatically prove the existence of a creator or the weakness of the scientific method. In choosing to feature that particular point of view in your piece on students and their religious observances, you provide tacit approval to those who would elevate faith over science.

I expected a publication produced by one of the nation'’s leading technological universities to have a more forward thinking point of view. What can I expect in the next issue, a cover story promoting intelligent design?

Number one, lighten up! I'm quite certain that the dominant philosophy at RPI is in agreement with the letter writer, so he hardly needs to get so worked up that an article mentioned, but did not endorse, an alternative idea. Secondly, consider this sentence: "We don't have all the answers now, but eventually ______ will make everything clear." Fill in that blank with God, and apparently you're a crazy Christian (and certainly not "forward thinking"). But put science in the blank, and you are a completely rational person making observations based solely on evidence? I think not. This guy has just as much faith as Kristen Clark does, just in something different.

Craigslist success

Over the past couple of years I have browsed Craigslist classifieds (link is for Dallas, but you can find your city on the right) as a buyer, but this weekend was the first time I used it to sell anything. Ever since we bought our plasma TV, our old 32" TV has just been sitting unplugged taking up space in our bedroom. I had taken pictures of the TV a month or so ago, but never got around to actually posting them. I finally put it on CL Saturday afternoon and by Sunday I had 6 people express interest in it. We sold it Sunday night, and the buyers were willing to pay the full price I had listed it for, $150. I think that was a decent deal, since I saw several comparable TVs listed at $200, though I also saw one at $125. I ended up giving it to them for $140, since they were college students who had driven up from Arlington. My wife, in her pregnancy cleaning frenzy, also threw in an extra bookshelf CD player that she wanted to get rid of. Our bedroom definitely looks nicer without that big hulking TV in it. The thing is so large we really struggled to get it into the buyers' car, but finally succeeded in getting it through the front passenger door with the seat fully reclined. Anyway, the Craigslist experience was definitely a good one: easy to post, free to post, immediate response, very friendly buyers.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kaplan College Guide loves RPI

RPI gets a mention as a new Ivy.

Applications to RPI were up 23 percent in 2005—a reflection of the school's reputation as an educator of scientists and engineers. The class of 2010 is 29 percent female. Students like the school's state-of-the-art facilities, including the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. RPI also operates a co-op program that lets students work at companies like IBM. Hockey is big on campus; RPI has a Division I team that's won two national championships. Skiing is also popular; the campus is just 45 minutes from the Adirondacks and the Catskills.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Working for the man

I have a lot of stuff to blog about, but have had almost no time. I've picked up some commitments at work while a co-worker is on vacation, and that work has been extremely time-intensive, both at the office and at home, and quite stressful. Expect to hear more from me as I have opportunity.