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A few days ago, while I visited some of my friends in Stanford, I attended a lecture by Francis Collins on how science and faith aren’t necessarily separate. Visiting with my Christian friends generally gives me a broader perspective, since these are people living the same life as me but from a philosophically different viewpoint. Perhaps, attending a lecture by one of them may give me a better understanding of one of the largest group of people in the United States.
My friend David greeted me as I approached the auditorium. I’ve always been impressed by the selflessness and the friendliness of Christians in general. They also appear calmer on the outside and relatively easy to get along with. There aren’t a whole lot of “requirements” in being their friend. All quite admirable qualities!
The talk had already started when we walked in, so we sat down together next to some other people from our group. I didn’t actually get a lot of sleep the day before, so I’d expected to fall asleep somewhere along the line. However, before that happened, I distinctly remember thinking that I don’t seem to care about the topic of the discussion! I couldn’t quite remember why it seemed like such an interesting topic. As the speech and arguments wore on, I just found that I couldn’t understand the importance of what this man was trying to convey!
Science and faith are together – okay
Science and faith are totally separate – okay
Overall, it doesn’t seem to have any relevance in how I lived life. When the lecture is over, I will still go back to my job, my blog, my friends, and my family. I will continue to do my best to improve existence for both myself and other people. It seems to matter very little whether there’s a God or not, or whether science and faith are separate.
As the lecture ended, a lot of people asked questions eagerly. I had very little idea what they were asking. It’s kind of weird like that! You hear words coming out of people’s mouths, and while each individual word (and sometimes even the sentence) makes sense, they don’t seem to come together into a coherent whole. It’s almost like hearing a bunch of random sentences!
I left the auditorium very confused.
Later, my group of friends got together for some food at In-N-Out, which I was surprised to find had been around since the 1960s (since I wasn’t really familiar with that restaurant chain). As the meal progressed, people started talking about their perception of what was “revealed” to them in the talk. Again, as each person expressed his or her feelings towards the ideas, I don’t seem to have any grasp on what they are saying! Maybe it was because I was just sleepy, but it’s as if I’d walked into an alien world where the words are the same but the language is completely different!
At that point, it occurred to me that beyond just some simple common context (such as food, staying alive, etc.), people tend to speak with a lot of context sensitivity. People often say things like, “Remember that time when we did x? Yeah, this is kind of like that!” Without that particular experience, this sentence means very little!
It made me think of the 78% bounce rate on my blog and how it’s probably true in the way I speak too! I probably assume most people have a strong logical background with a strong interest in principles and ideas. Perhaps 3 out of 4 people simply have no interest in this type of discussion. I can definitely recall times when I spoke to people and their eyes glaze over, as if having no comprehension of why I was saying what I was saying and how it was relevant to anything!
Since everyone has had a different experience in life, each person’s context is at least slightly different. That means the things we say almost always make more sense to us than it does to the other person! What’s amazing is that we somehow go out to talk to people – and we expect them to understand! I mean, it’s a random person from a different part of the world! Why would they have a context similar to yours? It seems to make more sense to assume that they won’t understand a single thing coming out of your mouth!
Perhaps, that is why it is so annoying to receive advice from people who don’t know you that well. After all, if they don’t understand your context, how can they give any advice that is relevant?
This is also interesting because people seem to get closer when they share stories about themselves. Through this person’s perception of their experiences, you can start to learn about the person they are. As you become more familiar with how they think, they become less dangerous and unpredictable, paving the way to trust and closeness!
Because of the differences in context, it also means that people will disagree on things. So next time we meet someone who seems to be very different from us, perhaps we should just accept that’s how things are supposed to be! After all, we’re probably just as strange to them!
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