Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thinking about Thinking-

I have recently engaged in a few sparing matches on another blog. Pliny is a scientific thinker and strong proponent of a scientific view of reality. He and his followers seem quite concerned by the conservative Christians who have been striving to incorporate creationist models into the system of education. For the most part Pliny and many of his followers do not have high regard for either the creation model or Christians and their way of thinking.

Pliny is quite fond of the evolutionary model. As a scientist and one who does not hold a Christian world view, that makes a great deal of sense. Most of his concerns and criticisms have been well thought out and well presented. In wrestling with some of those ideas as he presented them I have been compelled to think a bit.

I don't mind. I like thinking. Unfortunately, the last few years I have neglected my thinker, and so I am getting my thinker back into shape. Many of the half-baked mental models I played with many years ago remain half-baked. That is not to say they are not serviceable models, just that I never completed them.

In the past I did not have venues in which to exercise my thoughts. I was no longer in school, and my jobs did not present the right circumstances for mental exercise. So, my thoughts remained incomplete largely due to not having any sounding board. I had nobody to wrestle with. In recent years I exercised my mind less and less, and now it is as flabby as my physical form.

Not a pretty sight.

Having the Internet, I started this blog as a place to exercise my thoughts, and perhaps get some mental models assembled and made presentable. However, I still wrestled with some emotional issues, and was unable to get down to some serious thinking.

Visiting Pliny's place demonstrated to me that I really need to get my mental muscles back into fighting trim. Unlike physical combat, where my flab at least provides a useful mass for restraining combatants, mental wrestling requires some serious conditioning.

I am assessing some areas that will need exploration, and the exploration will provide the conditioning to prepare me for more intellectual adventures.

My problem has always been a curiosity greater than my lifespan. I have trouble narrowing my focus. I see so many avenues that are bright and interesting, and I want to travel them all.

Evolution and creation are only two models that I long to explore. However, associated with that exploration is an examination of contemporary Christian culture as it relates to the conflict between evolutionists and creationists. There is also an interesting avenue in which I long to explore the contemporary culture of science, and learn how that culture selects what is (and is not) knowledge.

That brings me back to the conflict I experienced in my youth regarding the perspective of the scientist as opposed to, say, a mystic. While science as a system reveals things that are true about the universe in which we live, I wondered about those areas that seemed unsuited for scientific analysis. The mystical was only one such area.

I still want to define more ways of thinking. This was the essence of my conflict in one discussion at Pliny's place. I contended that science was a belief system, a way of thinking. It is a system with a set of presuppositions, a perspective on reality, a particular vocabulary, and limits as to what it can encompass.

Pliny and his followers did not agree. My presentation left a lot to be desired, and I recognized that I was at fault for having not even clearly identified my position.

Of course, this points to another area of interest. The psychology of belief. That seems to be a subset of epistemology as well as psychology. Two rather large fields to explore.

It would be so much easier if one area of thought would catch my interest so intently that I could focus on that to the exclusion of all else. I would only delve into other related fields to help in understanding my darling. I would specialize and master something.

My broad interests have resulted in a little knowledge about a lot of things. This has earned the moniker Dr. Lockridge in my present place of employment. One associate likened me to a children's show host. Doctor Lockridge's Wading Pool of Knowledge. Though it is a bit of a dig, it is such a comical image (and true) that I have embraced it.

So, can I use this venue to focus my mind, and perhaps put together something that serves the name of this blog?

I can't wait to find out.