Coming to the end of 2023 and looking back in 2024, I realize that I’m still learning a lot! I wonder what others have learned. I’d be interested in a wide range of things–from science to godly insight.
Some things I’ve learned in 2023:
I can nearly always, legitimately, say “I am sorry”–either for what I’ve done, or what has happened to someone else, in sympathy–after listening.
I’ve geared, as a family medicine doc, to consider death as the ultimate enemy. Patients often remind me that it is not the only one. Sometimes listening shows which is more important to them.
The universe is bigger than I realized (after reading some science books and visiting a planetarium)
That was the year I became convinced that while there are no rational/empirical arguments for acknowledging God, there is no default basis for preferring no God. So having always felt the presence something greater I am now quite pleased to call that God. Not planning to name Him or set up an alter but I have no doubt about it and there are a lot of big questions like the mind/body problem and why we should care about every creature and person which God makes clear. Finishing The Matter With Things made all the difference.
My major learning experience this past year was a result of my daughter’s family moving in with us after her husband was transferred to our area just before the school year. They have 4 kids aged 13,11,8 and 5 who all have some challenges due to past experiences when with their bio-mom. Living in a multi-generational household gives you a different perspective. Once their house sells and they find another here, it is a chapter that will close, but both fun and hard at the moment. Makes my wife and I look for time to get out alone. Which reminds me, I need to register and make reservations for the Biologos biannual meeting this spring in North Carolina. Hope to see some you guys there!
Gotta go. The 5 year old says there is poop on the carpet.
Here are a couple of things that I learned in 2023:
First, that I need to forgive the young earth creationists and other Christians who have thrown me off track in the past with bad arguments, misinformation, conspiracy theories, anti-intellectualism, false accusations and hostility to science. Yes, it did a lot of damage to my career when I was younger, but forgiveness really is essential to the Christian faith, and I’m sure that if I’d remembered that and put it into practice rather than getting all angst-y and upset about it, I’d have seen the damage repaired much faster and much more effectively.
Second, that I need to stop talking and debating about science and instead focus on actually doing science. I’m constantly saying that science is a very hands-on and practical enterprise, and it is that hands-on and practical experience that qualifies you to talk about scientific subjects with any meaningful authority. I’ve also been increasingly frustrated with discussions about the philosophy of science that show little or no awareness or understanding of the mechanics of science. But they say that you should be the change that you want to see, and that being the case, it’s best if I focus on practising intelligent design rather than arguing about intelligent design.
It’s hard to do everything, and certainly to do everything well. There are more demands on our time and attention than we can possibly give.
Your contributions here are consistently valuable for their content, tone, comprehension and intelligence. What is more, you are obviously committed to treat others, whoever they are and whatever their attitude, with the love of Christ. You demonstrate well how to love one’s neighbor, while holding to the truth.
It has been a pleasure to become acquainted with you a bit. I hope to see you around the Forum sometimes.
It’s hard for me as I get older to think in such yearly partitions, as time just increasingly seems to slur together for me as some packaged whole, and beyond the rough divisions of childhood, youth, long-time-ago adulthood, and recent adulthood, I often can’t pinpoint what year I began to learn some particular thing. Probably over several years. But fairly recently - mostly as a result of life experience with God’s grace - I got a truckload of reinforcement for how good it was to just trust something to God rather than let my fears about a situation prevail. Had I verbalized my fear (what my paranoid imagination makes of something or someone else), I could have permanently damaged relationships or relationship potential. Roughly over the last year I saw how wrong my fears were about the motivations of several other people, it has allowed me to praise God that I kept my mouth shut back when fears were running rampant - filling information voids in my head. So I’m learning to be quicker to give my own internal fears the old heave-ho in favor of letting trust and hope be my better angels. As often as my fears have been wrong about people, you’d think I’d been all over that a lot sooner. But I need repeated lessons - and will probably still need it yet more, though hopefully less and less. Assuming the best about people will of course lead to disappointments too - but I find that disappointment is more short-lived and easier to apply grace and love then - which is much better than stewing in my worst assumptions from the get-go - and possibly ruining everything when those may push out to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Indeed! I was thinking I learned so many things and the hard part was keeping track and remembering all I have learned this year… even though these are the things I live for.
At first the easiest thing to remember were the new ideas in those lectures by N. T Wright. Then I remembered the biggest change in my life during 2023 which was finding this new church. From them I think I learned how much more effective it is to discuss things than to preach. I had a good bad-example from a church I visited near the same time I found this new church where the speaker was just a little too long winded. I also learned that we sometimes get hung up on a lot of not very important details and this can detract from the more important things the Bible is teaching.
Thanks for your kind words, Kendel. I don’t expect to be disappearing altogether—I just want to cut down on those pointless arguments with bad-faith young earth zealots that just end up going round and round in circles as they repeat the same points over and over again while bringing nothing new to the table whatsoever to address the points you’ve made in response to them.
There are a couple of things I’d like to see on this forum. One is more science news items. The Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection group on Facebook has a “This Week in Science” post every week that’s pretty interesting, perhaps we could have something similar here? Another thing would be for those on the forum who are professional scientists to tell us a bit more about their research, the latest discoveries they’re making and so on. I was hoping we’d see something like that in the thread I started a couple of years back “What are you working on?” but it ended up drifting off topic somewhat then closing off automatically after six days of inactivity. Would be nice to see it opened up again and got back on track.
In 2023, I learned, or was re-assured anyways, that although there are many threats to humanity’s survival, there is still reason to hope that technological progress combined with social and spiritual progress can lead to a better future.
Be careful what you wish for! You might just get it! Or I did the easy part anyway… Others will have to keep it up. Or if it closes again after another period, it can easily be reopened again on request.
Case in point: myriad Christ-based sects imply that all of them are inaccurate to some degree. Our savior may be smiling at contrite hearts, and devotion for its own sake, rather than perfect appreciation of the entirety of His Sacrifice.
I have realized more clearly than before that just because I see where someone of another position is excessively rule conscious, prejudiced, or naive, does not mean I do not practice those faults to an even worse degree.