I hate when I let so much time pass between posts! Last week was finals -- I didn't have anything too terribly challenging, but still I had to study. For some reason this past semester, though the coursework was not heavy, I had a hard time buckling down. Senioritis, I guess. I've been checking all day to see if my grades are posted yet. The only one that's up is for Science and the Modern World, which is an A. It was a class in the history and philosophy of science.
I grew to hate this class. The lectures were dry summaries of the reading (some of which was great: we read a bit of Dawkins and Dennison on evolution, but we also read a book called Worldviews by someone named DeWitt, which was awful, deadly tedious, shallow, and repetitive), and the discussion sessions with the T.A. were more or less an hour of him showing off his ability to pontificate. But I think my irritation was mostly a reaction to how philosophy is approached in academia. Everything's an argument. And it annoys me that most academics seem to have so little knowledge of or understanding of Asian philosophical traditions. It seems to me that even a rudimentary understanding of Buddhism turns 95% of the body of European philosophical thought into a lot of masturbatory nonsense. But that's just me.
Anyway, that's the only grade I was concerned about (concerned that I might get a B) so I'm pretty sure now I got straight A's this semester.
My reaction to that class and then reading about Obama's speech at Notre Dame has me thinking about faith the last few days, because it seems to me it takes a lot more faith to be agnostic, or atheist. The word faith has, in Christian circles, come to substitute for belief, which I think is a very different thing. Belief is closer to certainty -- when most people say "I have faith in God" they mean "I am certain that God exists" -- whereas faith doesn't make any sense without uncertainty. If you really believe that any sort of ultimate higher purpose is either nonexistent or unknowable, what else gets you up in the morning but faith? Faith that this day and what it contains is enough.