I often spend up to 2 hours of my workday commuting to and from my clients' offices, in a train where possible, but more often than not in my car. Needless to say I am not too happy about this wasted time.
John Stackhouse claims that this commuting problem also increases my risk of becoming dumber:
What are we doing during those hours upon hours in our cars, buses, trains, and the like? Some of us are getting dumber: listening to (bad, which is to say, typical) talk radio or pop music; fuming at other drivers while trying to shave a few minutes off the commute; or simply letting our minds idly flit from one vaguely anxious or annoying or trivial thought to another.
So a few months back, I bought a converter that allows me to play mp3s from my laptop to my car stereo. I’m glad I did. This has allowed me to listen to a wide variety of lectures and sermons during my long commute.
(Please note: I do set the whole thing up prior to backing out of my driveway. I do NOT endanger others or myself by attempting to drive & interact with my laptop simultaneously).
Many of my commuting lectures are downloaded from the “Faraday Institute of Science and Religion” multimedia page. Faraday has a wide range of resources on the religion / science interface, probably the best set of resources that reflect both a commitment to Christian orthodoxy and integrity in science. Categories include bioethics, biology, the environment, divine action, evolution, history of science and religion, philosophy of science, physics and cosmology, and science and the bible. I have just started working my way through the series but, from what I can tell, most lectures are exceptionally strong.
Some recent highlights:
1. Ken Miller: “Chance, Necessity, and Evolution”
The title of this lecture is probably a little misleading. Miller (author of Finding Darwin’s God) conducts a wide ranging discussion on his own experience in the Evolution vs. ID conflict, including his account of the Dover trial. Although not necessarily an in-depth discussion of randomness in evolution, Miller is at his engaging best in this lecture, and I definitely recommend it.
One particularly interesting item: When addressing the idea of “apparent age”, Miller refers to the “Steve Martin God” because the God postulated by the apparent age argument is “One Wild and Crazy Guy”. Just another reason for me to despise the Omphalos hypothesis.
2. John Polkinghorne: The Future of the Science-Religion Debate
This was a very interesting lecture on the direction Polkinghorne thinks the Science-Religion dialogue (why must we always call it a debate?) is heading. One topic he discusses is the coming shift in emphasis to the human sciences (eg. psychology & sociology). Fortunately the evolution-faith discussion may be ending; unfortunately the discussion re: mind-soul-faith could be just as nasty. Another growing area of interest is the place of information theory and pattern dynamics. Polkinghorne predicts that by end of the 21st century, “information will take its place beside energy & matter” in the physical sciences. Connecting the two topics above, Polkinghorne believes that the soul is not some detachable spiritual entity but is an “almost infinitely complex information bearing pattern”. Anyone want to start a blog called “An Evangelical Dialogue on Non-reductive Physicalism”?
3. N.T. Wright: Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection
I must confess that I have not read much N.T. Wright, but I plan to rectify that in the future (I am currently reading The New Testament and the People of God). This lecture is (I believe) a whirlwind summary of his very important The Resurrection of the Son of God. That is next on my list.
Wright had a memorable line in the Q&A following the lecture. When asked about Richard Dawkins' God Delusion he replied “I must confess I never finished it. It was one of those books that once I put it down I could not pick it up again”.
I’m not sure that a commuting lecture strategy will allow me to avoid becoming any dumber. But it certainly has made the commute much more enjoyable.