reasons

After reading When Breath Becomes Air, it caused many moments of self-reflection, recognition, and realization. The most profound of these moments was certainly the correlation that Dr. Kalanithi feels between the morality of humans and the principality of science – and the deep and undeniable connection between the two. My own experiences with realizing what morality is and how we as humans can approach understanding truthfully moral ways has heightened my awareness of the breadth, complexity, and utter incomprehension we have of the meaning and value of life. I don’t say this morbidly, because if you know me you know I am quite the optimist (insert cheesy smile), but I do say it with sincerity. There is such a truly bold connection between humans as spirits and souls that feel love, mercy, pain, and an array of emotional qualities, and the humans that are comprised of varying physiologies of biological and chemical pathways and processes. We are such a complex and deeply intertwined species, that pure science and pure metaphysics do not explain us. They require themselves and a few other important things for a full, robust and accurate description of what it means to be alive.

Deriving from my own experiences as a student, Christian,  and human (surprise!), I have found many truths and many troubling thoughts. Philosophy is something I have grown to love and hate at the same time, which I have commonly found is not unique just to me but to others who study philosophy as well. You may ask, what even is philosophy, and you may laugh at students that say philosophy is their major, but I encourage you to exercise some tact when approaching those who enjoy philosophy. But first, to answer your question in my own, rudimentary knowledge of the subject, I would say that philosophy is truly a search for meaning. Meaning of life, meaning of people, meaning of actions, of religion, of science, of thoughts, of generally anything that is worth searching for. And my own experiences with this quest have been… circuitous. Oscillating between why does this matter? and how could this not matter? has left me in a comfortable, but strange, place with philosophy. Almost at peace, so to say. I have found innumerable truths reading though the great minds of thought, peering into their own opinions on the most important matters of life: happiness, virtue, God, and learning to name a few. I have experienced these inquiries from mathematicians, career-philosophers (ha ha at that term), atheists, scientists, Christians, and teachers. What I have found is a universal truth: that we are humans, and that we take our experiences and we develop our own values, our own morals, our own ethics, our own vocabularies, our own meanings, and we are all developed differently but still the same. For me, this has allowed me to see Christianity in a newfound strength (insert: Go read Rene Descartes’s Meditations). It has allowed me to see the necessity with which there needs to be God. God is the true foundation for which all life, thought, and meaning is derived. He is the unifying alikeness that all humans possess, and He is the only thing that can complete science in its discrepancies and shortcomings. Maybe philosophy has the opposite effect for others, but for me it has challenged my thoughts in unseen ways (sometimes scary ways), but has allowed me to truly integrate every piece of my being – my desire to live a good life, my love and faith in Jesus Christ, and my infatuation with science. I don’t credit philosophy with helping me understand more about myself. I do credit philosophy with teaching me how to think, how to speak, and how to formulate my own ideas and opinions. I see the connections in my life, the concrete existence of a God that no, cannot be empirically proven, but can be proven by merely examining humans and experience. I have seen different parts of my life woven into a fabric that just makes sense. In a way, I felt it has set me apart more than before I had studied my own self and values so extensively (as a by-product of philosophy) and has made me difficultly different than other people in this way (hopefully other students can agree with me on this). Ultimately, I have realized the importance of dependency. The importance of friendship; the importance of conversation; the importance of sharing your life with others; the importance of NEVER thinking you are above others and cannot learn from them; the importance of bringing together all parts of your life and finding where you are genuinely the most happy.

This has been me incessantly rambling about how happy I am to have learned something about my life. The truth is, there are many, MANY, many things I do not know. In these are where my trust and faith in God prevails. I know not what my life holds, but I do know who has been entrusted with my future. And I do know that He has placed meaning, importance, and value in every life on this earth. I see these not just through a lens of spirituality but also a lens of philosophy. Until I am made fully aware of these things, I will keep striving to understand more about what God wants for me, how He wants me to live, and the ways in which I can more fully be His humbled, faithful, and loving daughter. I can pray we can do this together. (I also HIGHLY, highly encourage you to read When Breath Becomes Air… It is beautiful.)

 

divinity

Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Sometimes, as a student that studies science, I feel like I have a special vision into what God’s divine nature and eternal power looks like when displayed in a physical context. I feel advantaged to be able to interpret God’s divinity and sovereignty over all things in a context unusual to most. God’s infinite powers “have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” I take this to heart. I am found out of excuse when it comes to an argument against the creation of man by a skillful and intricate Creator. As a lover of science, I admire the challenges that scientists face when trying to discredit creationism. On this one though, I can only see through the lens of a God Most High. Yes, my answer to “How is the world created?” is a simple “God spoke life into all things.” And I am sorry if this doesn’t appease you, but truthfully my stance is not to satisfy the natural curiosity that man possesses. My desire in these matters is only to search for Truth and to find it in a way that remains objective and unemotional.

I say my desire because I do not always fulfill this query. Remaining non-subjective, I will. I can hear the facts of the Big Bang Theory or the evolution argument, and I will ponder them and explore them with you. We can learn about them and challenge them together. Through these experiences, you will see that your faith in a scientific concept is just as strong as my faith in a divine Creator. Your faith in random interactions of matter is equivalent to my faith in the Word of God. However, my faith is discredited, maybe due in part to the sociocultural evolution of Christianity. I won’t deny that some people present Christianity in a way that may be quite different from what one may say is the “right way” and on this, I have no discernment except for to encourage the recipient of the knowledge to search and explore the word for himself. Nonetheless, Christianity gets a bad rap in the world of intellect and reason. Taken face-value, maybe I can understand. But when investigated, these “highly intellectual and logically sound” persons are taking their belief to a level beyond my extreme. Matter collided, and the world progressed through time to evolve into what it is and who we are today. I just have difficulty with this, and maybe this is where I fail to remain unemotional. There are undoubtedly some parts of Christianity in which I also have difficulty understanding, too. I will support science when presented with the facts or laws that rest within scientific realms. I will support science when presented with partial facts but at least a clear and comprehensible reasoning. Perhaps my feeble and weak mind cannot comprehend how particles interacted in a way that eventually led to the ability for the human body to thrive the way it does. Do I think creationism is a short-winded way to the Truth? No, I think creationism is the Truth. God spoke life into me, and into you, and into every plant and animal, and living being on the earth. I believe this because it is seen clearly to me. I see beauty in life. I don’t see discrete (but abstract, in a way) collisions of matter that came together explaining what we know today about biology and biochemistry. Life is too complex, and inconceivably amazing, for me to settle with that lacking answer.

But if you believe we were made in this way, I don’t mock you or undermine your intellect or belief. I just challenge you to search for Truth in other ways. Tunnel-visioning belief is belief built on rocky ground. Explore creationism. Try to see life through my perspective. If you saw beauty in the way topoisomerase is signaled to start assisting DNA for replication the same way I do, I promise your life would be more meaningful and utterly inspiring. I don’t love God because He makes my life more meaningful and utterly inspiring, because I love God my life is more meaningful and utterly inspiring. God’s divine intervention is evident through so many things. Aside from tangible things like the ability to survive and complex cellular biological processes, nontangible things like the feeling of being embraced or laughing uncontrollably are indicators that someone out there loves us more than particles colliding can provide to explain. Human cognition and consciousness gives me faith in Someone more powerful and of higher capacity than me. Someone that transcends all things. Science can’t explain everything…which gives me reason to believe that a God Most High can (although maybe not while we are here on this earth).
The truth is we don’t have the facts to it all. We don’t have answers, and there are some questions we probably never will have answers to. But we should search for the Truth. And whatever you believe, or if you believe nothing at all, at least experience the beauty of life. Because whomever, or whatever, put it there is clearly trying to display to us a small portion of the magnanimity and all-encompassing beauty we may someday get to experience more fully. My troubled, but hopeful, soul rests easily in that.

a tree falls in the woods

A tree falls in the woods, and nobody hears it. Did it really fall and make a sound?

The action may have occurred. In fact, the tree most likely fell. But can we prove that it did?

No. Someone could have chopped the tree down. Someone could have uprooted the tree purposefully. But here we are, immersed in this deciduous forest, and we are all trying to semantically determine the source of the fallen tree. We are all surrounded around the tree, painstakingly and vehemently trying to validate our theories. The tree was knocked down by violent winds. The tree was aged and had fallen due to its worn age. Of course, the qualities of the tree are meaningless. In fact, we have such a lack of care for the tree that we intentionally set it on fire. We, individually, pick at its bark – bark that cannot be replaced – until it is near bare. We see the tree as a great source of profit to our intellectual accounts and spend our time hacking away at its sides, as a miner blindly hacks away at a cave. Except this cave is so magnanimously mysterious. But now there are other theories; the tree was spontaneously uprooted by a theoretically powerful but infinitely improbable force. We all so conscientiously try to put an identification tag on the cause of the fall. We are surrounded around the tree, with blinders on to everything but our own theories. Some theories are substantiated in scientific arguments. While others are rooted in supernatural phenomena. Individually, there are flaws in both. But we would never allow ourselves to hear the views of the other side. We only listen to ourselves. We care only about our own flawed reasoning.

But what if there was a branch that fell off the tree on the way down? Attached to the branch are the punctilious and explicit explanations for the cause of the miraculous fall of the tree. The branch, we know, is most definitely a part of the whole original tree. There are no earthly questions of the authenticity of the branch being a part of the tree. In fact, the branch is the only other existing remnant of the tree. The only other terrestrial evidence that the tree actually exists in a place other than our minds. When the branch is discovered, some people wholeheartedly believe its instructions are pure and divine. The cause of the tree is disclosed in the ink of the pristine instructions.

This is where we are. We are destroying the tree. We are disrespecting the entirety of the causality behind the falling of the tree. We are here not to question whether or not the tree is on the ground; that is not denied. We collectively believe that. But we are out here to determine why it fell. What caused it to fall. Is there significance in the falling of the tree? Are there other trees that will fall in these same ways?

Where are you in this amass of theories, facts, and distorted beliefs? The one hacking away at the tree, disrespecting its origin of death? Are you blind to the branch that is an unquestionable part of the whole? Are your theories based on what the obviously puzzled person in front of you told you? Have you even thought about why the tree fell at all, or are you outside the forest, only believing what those who are running wildly out to tell you? (This is an unsafe place to be)

But the truth is a tree fell in the woods. Someone heard it. We all believe it. Why did it fall?

seasons of change

lkjkjk

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the term Eureka or the historical concepts behind it. This post was essentially an exact replication of the original Eureka! moment by Archimedes, the great physicist (not known as a physicist at the time of his existence). During Archimedes’ moment of realization, he was visiting a public bath, mulling over the problem he had been commanded to solve. Long story short, the King at the time was assuming his jeweler was replacing some of his authentic gold with a less valuable metal; thus, stealing from him and lessening the integrity and value of his crown. I just recently read this in a book of great physicists and happened to find it very fitting to this scenario. Anyways, the story continues and Archimedes solves the equation by lowering into the water and seeing it rise. The displaced water led him to the discovery of the measurement of irregular volumes (a graduated cylinder). He has a “Eureka!” moment and runs out of the public bath to the King with the solution and leaves his eternal mark on science.

Okay, my ironically fitting situation. I too am in the bath, except it’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m in the private environment of my own home. Like most of the times I spend showering and bathing, my mind evolves into this overly effective thinking machine. While just contemplating life and all of it’s various aspects, I am enlightened with a thought that needs to be written down. so. Like all writers, I don’t let the thought escape me and I write it down. I had full intentions of keeping this one to myself. It’s too deep. It’s too weird. It’s too “inspirational” or “wise”. It only makes sense in my mind. People will ridicule me. Then I realized I was falling victim to the very thing that had been placed on my mind. I needed to take my own advice and READ what I WROTE. So here you go. Just me, my late night, Eureka thoughts, and the large gulf of understanding and appreciation between me, the writer, and you, the reader.

disclaimer: It was 1 am when I wrote this. I am fully capable of practicing proper grammar and capitalization skills; however, I am choosing to let this post remain in all of its raw messiness.

1:00 am. Wednesday, December 5th. Silence, electronic illumination, and an oversized shirt. Hear, see, touch. Urgent typing. Sleepiness. Fuzzy socks but a very clear mind.

“your thoughts are like vibrant, beautiful leaves hanging from the tree of talent and creativity. the tree represents your mind. often times, your tree is full of vibrant, awaiting leaves, ready to fall to the ground and serve a purpose. when your thoughts are looking upwards, encouraging you and helping you – this is spring. spring is a blooming season. spring is bright and cheerful. during this time your thoughts are creating themselves and something in your mind is evoking curiosity. where did this thought stem from? your thoughts are at the beginning of the assembly line. they are being manufactured. assembled. piece by piece, thought by thought. essentially the leaves of your trees are becoming brighter and growing with life and energy. they have been initiated and fed with curiosity and urgency. when your thoughts are at their full potential, they are so on fire with life and ready to throw you into something so outrageously life changing, you have reached summer. your thoughts are fully developed and awaiting for you to use them. to change you, to help you grow as a person, to help you encourage someone else, to inspire you, to make your dreams come alive, or to change your circumstances. your thoughts may be as simple as the inspiration for a change of occupation or a small reminder to someone that “everything is going to be okay”, to something so complex and convuluted as the thoughts that led John Dalton to abolish the four elements theory that closed the gap between “what was” and “what is”. thoughts like these are those robust shades of greens that we adore during the summer time. the ones we obsess over and enjoy so much. during the summer season, your thoughts are energetic and ready to make their escape into the world. the time after this though – the time in which your thoughts hesitate from escaping your mind and materializing themselves, this is the extremely hot and dreary period between the beauty of a mild summer and the beginning of a breezy fall. your thoughts are trying to squeeze their life into you, trying to motivate you to deny the doubts that other people place in your mind and the thoughts that the demons inside of you create. this is the scariest and most important time for your thoughts. will you let them out or hold them? will you kill their oh so genuine beauty? from here, your thoughts do one of two things.

autumn comes.

your thoughts become the breathtaking, anticipated leaves that create a world of yellows and reds and oranges. the leaves featured in photography sessions and Instagram photos. the thoughts that create life and inspire dreams. the thoughts that have escaped in full reality and have developed into an awe inspiring life. the thoughts that shattered doubt and choked demons. the thoughts that make people think “why didn’t I do that?” or “why didn’t I think of that?”.  the people possessing these interrogative thoughts are the leaves that are dry, brown, and dead. the thoughts that had full potential of being inspiring but were crushed by fear of failure and disappointment. these crunchy, ominous leaves are the thoughts that could have created something so beautiful. something so majestic and wonderful but were suffocated by the the thought of stupidity, low self worth, and insecurity. while others frolic in the leaves of those who expressed their minds, these individuals mourn over the death of their talented thoughts.

don’t be the one attending the funeral of your rare and precious ideas.

then winter comes. a time of dormancy. a time where creativity stirs and the playing field equals out. all the trees are bare. those who expressed their thoughts are equal to those who kept theirs confined. a time of tranquility, but with a sense of urgency. a time of anticipation for what’s ahead.

spring comes again.

and there are now three categories. those who relish, anticipate, and remember their cheerful spring leaves, vibrant summer leaves, and amazing fall leaves. there are also those who decide to navigate from their previous course and nurture their bright ideas and crumbling self worth to express their ideas and thoughts this time. and the third category, those who didn’t learn the first time. those who are still under the heavy chains of the world and those surrounding them. those who will repeat a vicious cycle of hesitation, disappointment, and failure.

your mind is a tree full of leaves with potential. do you want to set them free and let others indulge in their beauty and rarity? or keep them locked inside of you and prevent the world from admiring and benefiting from your creativity, inspiration, encouragement, or ideas.

everyday is a new year. everyday you get to experience each season. everyday you have to a choice to stand out or step back. I strongly encourage you to write down your thoughts and express them to others. I think very highly of the things being created inside your mind, and I know others would too.”