User:Evensteven

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Born American, raised Episcopalian, converted to Christian Orthodoxy over fifteen years ago.

I know the Answer to life, the universe, and everything: Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Or at least I know Him as well as my feeble frame and condition of soul allow. As for answers, well, I have accumulated a few tidbits of knowledge here and there, and perhaps they might answer a few small inquiries. I like a really good question better, though, as those open up lines of inquiry, exploration, vistas, and that gives life room to search and grow. Best of all are those really big questions that never really get answered in full, for those are full of life. Which is the point where one needs to refer back to the Answer and cycle again.

I like looking outside the box, and dislike lack of vision and legalism. I value courtesy highly and therefore disdain political correctness. I am orthodox yet unconventional, traditional yet unconservative, rigorous yet flexible, a thinker yet not a pedant. I love paradox but not contradiction, mystery but not concealment, honesty but not belligerence, cooperation not competition, and many kinds of puzzles you can't quite get your arms around. I think Wikipedia is more than a fine idea; it's also practical and thrives on good will and freedom (together, inseparably). And I do love the environment when a win is not a win unless it's a win-win-win-win-win.

Short essay on science and Christianity

"It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature. -- Neils Bohr, as quoted in Rhodes, Richard (2012) [1987], The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Simon & Schuster, p. 77, ISBN 978-1-4516-7761-4 

I admire Bohr's succinct correction about attitudes to physics, and by extension, to all sciences. He was ever reticent, even unwilling, to express or promulgate "laws of nature", and resistant, even opposed to the notion that physics [science] might actually be able to arrive at absolute truths or principles. Instead, he preferred to refer to "viewpoints" or "lines of reasoning", and refused to "carry argument beyond physical evidence", placing strict limits on abstraction. He rejected the idea that physics could afford to be authoritarian, "rigidly governed by mechanistic cause and effect". Thus predisposed, he worked out (beginning in 1911 and 1912) his discoveries about the nature of the atom that led to the establishment of the theory of quantum mechanics and to his 1922 Nobel Prize (ref to Rhodes, ch 3). Even today this foundational approach to science is not widely appreciated outside the ranks of professional scientists, and not always even then.

It is perhaps remarkable then that the Orthodox Christian faith reflects a parallelism of such attitude within religion. It views God Himself as the authority, the only real authority, the only absolute, these things therefore not being abstractions but characteristics of the infinite being of God, and indeed, manifestations of His action. But finite humans, unable to grasp the infinite but only to apprehend it in a limited fashion, are restricted to an experience of portions: the concrete, the practical, the example, the situation, the life of change and growth. The ultimate authority Himself is not authoritarian, nor rigid, nor abstract, nor legalistic, but relational, within Himself, and with people. Humans do not arrive at absolute truths, but the absolute God comes to be with humans. And people respond with all those qualities that humans have, viewpoints, perceptions, lines of reasoning, intuitions, and relations in community. Thus, Orthodox theology and doctrine depend first on God and what He reveals, but are not themselves the whole of Him, nor absolute. His revelation of Himself is true and does not change. But it is wrong to think that the task of Orthodox theology is to describe (much less find out) what God's nature is. Orthodox theology concerns what we can say about God.

This compatibility of outlook is but one example of how science and Christianity are not fundamentally opposed to each other. Most conflicts have within their germinations a certain rigidity of posture, the assumption of mechanistic principles that can drive adherents towards the proclamation of absolutes. Neither science nor religion are free of this very human, though flawed, tendency to carry argument beyond evidence, even beyond revelation. But the tendency can also continue, carrying intuition beyond those boundaries, leading us to draw unwarranted conclusions. The remedy in science is as Bohr described, to adhere to the physical evidence (and also to pursue experiment to obtain more evidence). The remedy in Christianity is to adhere to God, in relationship and community, so that our personal perceptions do not outrun God's revelations to His Church. In both, the individual is capable of seeking out insights (new to the person, perhaps to others), but the promise of increasing wisdom first means much work, then communication, and also confirmation within the scientific or religious community.

Neils Bohr used to say "no paradox, no progress", meaning that without puzzles and contradictions we don't have pointers to the really fruitful areas for growing understanding. Similarly, Orthodox Christianity might paraphrase him in "no mystery, no life", meaning that without the holy mysteries given us by God, we don't have the means to grow in knowledge of God, the Life-giver, wherein our finite human being reaches into the infinite image of God.

Perfect opinion piece
You're Reading This? Perfect

Perfection, I had always figured, was elusive and painstakingly hard-won, if not wholly unattainable. It was something for which you quested through years of sweat-on-your-brow toil. Now I regularly achieve perfection by barely lifting a finger.

Opting for black beans on my burrito while I shuffle along the serving station at a certain fast-casual restaurant? The wielder of the big spoon pronounces the choice "perfect". My chest swells a little as I move to the next options, proud not to have fallen for the obviously second-tier pinto beans. I admit that I'm a little crestfallen when my choices of chicken and mild salsa elicit no response from the servers, but when I go for cheese over sour cream, there it is again: "Perfect," the young woman on the other side of the glass chirps with practiced delight.

I have done no scientific studies or linguistic analyses, but lately it seems like America, however imperfect its democracy might be, is speeding toward utter flawlessness in the public sphere.

I have been "perfect" for ordering iced tea sans lemon. My decision to upgrade to a midsized rental car? "Perfect." The fact that I brought my own reusable bag to my neighborhood Safeway? A "perfect" uttered so enthusiastically you would've thought I alone had reversed global warming. Even the act of signing my name at the bottom of escrow documents brought a "perfect" from the loan officer, though a half-hearted effort, I must say.

At dinner in a restaurant with my family, I can only look on with smug condescension after my "perfect" entrée choice (salt-rubbed salmon) is followed by my wife's selection of a chicken dish that merits only an "excellent choice" —clearly the honorable mention in this waiter's personal rating scale.

Where are we headed with this trendy dilution of perfection? As with participation trophies for all in youth soccer leagues, the blithe bestowing of unearned distinction cheapens the entire concept of perfection, which should be a rare and precious thing.

Alas, we are all Nadia Comaneci now. We all receive perfect 10s, even from the Russian judges. Makes me long for those more modest days of not so long ago, when everything was merely awesome.

— Sam McManis, Wall Street Journal opinion page, Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Points of View

It was only many days later that Ransom discovered how to deal with these sudden losses of confidence. They arose when the rationality of the hross tempted you to think of it as a man. Then it became abominable—a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have—glossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teeth—and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view.

— C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, end of chapter 9
Awards
Peace Barnstar Hires.png The Barnstar of Diplomacy
Your comments on the Height template RfC were very helpful and insightful. Thank you for your participation there. Gigs (talk) 18:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Editors Barnstar Hires.png The Editor's Barnstar
For your edit on the George Kline article. Memory eternal to someone who showed absolute respect, compassion and sympathy for the East. LoveMonkey 18:03, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Precious[edit]

Cornflower blue Yogo sapphire.jpg

Eastern Christianity
Thank you, baritone operating from a well-organized sandbox on a background of scientific math, music and computing, for quality contributions to articles such as Atonement in_Christianity and Samaritan woman at the well, for exteme humility, for detailed patient explanation, - you are an awesome Wikipedian!

--Gerda Arendt (talk) 08:32, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Original Barnstar Hires.png The Original Barnstar
Have a nice day my Orthodox brother Sιgε |д・) 12:46, 15 October 2015 (UTC)