8/17/2007

Innocent Until Proven Big City

You know when you realize that science has a lot more evidence than organized religion, and you start to wonder what the point is in life if no higher power exists? You get bummed for a few days, then realize all you have is a certain number of days and they have to count, because it's all you have. Then, you vow to not waste a second.*

Soon after I went through this, my dad came up to me one night and said "Drew, I know what the next big thing is- Immortality." After I made the crack that it's an old man's game, he went on some theoretical description of wireless networks and how the brain is a network, therefore you can make the brain like a hard drive and erase and refill an unlimited amount of time.



My reasoning that life is only made fun by the fact that it is limited. That if people lived forever, they wouldn't have any point in being moral. Think about it, who cares about 25 years in the state pen when you have billions of billions of years after. Also, people only do things like go to college because they don't have all the time in the world.

I didn't realize the irony at the time. Personally, due to a shake up at my lab, the last 2 years of work resulted in paltry returns. Sure I made money, but that was about it. A few days later, it hit me that I wasn't headed towards some great truth or accomplishment, the goal of men like my dad.

My thoughts drifted back to a conversation I'd had with my little sister Emily about how her friends had gotten arrested on the Golden Gate bridge for protesting because "it's private property." When I told her that seemed to be false, and the police had no right to do that, she said she didn't know. I didn't know for sure either, but we both admitted we wanted to go to law school to try to right some wrongs.**



Now my dad, brother, wingman, and ex-girlfriend all went/are going to law school. My mom works in a law office. I feel like I live in a family of factory workers in a small Pennsylvania town, where lawyering is just what you do. But sometime after the immortality discussion I had an epiphany.

I started to think that if I wanted to die happy, and without regret, I'd have to change some things. Like work towards a goal that benefits humanity. Sure, making people live a little better is good, so my job has been a cog in the great machine of progress. However, it'd be tough to argue that modern science has made people any happier. My mind drifted back to that conversation with Emily, and how change is within my grasp.

Sure, I know what you're thinking. Lawyers don't change shit, except for the traffic offense I got to non-driving. Well, I remembered a group I'd heard about in the news. A friend from high school actually worked for them. The Innocence Project is a group that has helped hundreds of inmates, including some on death row, get released based on DNA evidence.



The way I could work for them is to become a lawyer. With all my chemistry and biology classes, not to mention lab work, adding a law degree would give me a good shot to help.

Next thing you know, I'm in NYC, where the group is based, but not to visit. At some point during my vacation, I realized how I needed to experience the madness of a big city, if just for a few years. The next day I sat at my computer researching law schools in the Big Apple. NYU and Columbia both had numbers that made me wish I'd studied harder as an undergrad. A 3.0 GPA doesn't get you very far.



But then I came across Cardozo School of Law in Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is everything you've heard- vibrant, interesting, varied, and yes even a tiny bit "hip." I started looking into how it set itself apart. And what did I find? They are the location for the Innocence Project. Symmetry.

If I can get in there, I won't achieve immortality. However, I may be able to help give some mortals some of their time here back.


* And nobody keeps that vow haha
** She's in the Peace Corps now with her husband. Her blog is on my sidebar. My other sister works for change too, at Outdoor Outreach. And my bro fights the powers that be in Springfield. He won't admit it, but his cases tend to be David v. Golith-esque.

6 comments:

cassidy said...

this is your best written blog to date! i agree with you once again, immortality should never be the desirable outcome! if we lived forever, everything would change. we would be adolescents for probably 100 years longer than we are now, in which case, the puberty age would be later...and kids would still be in a hurry to grow up! it just doesn't work. we're supposed to be young for a little while, try to grow old too fast, then realize we need to stop and smell the damn roses! okay, now really, i'm going to workout. haa bye!

eugene said...

I agree with the part about morality--sadly in the world we live in today God is a luxury that many people can't afford. However, I will disagree with, "You know when you realize that science has a lot more evidence than organized religion and you start to wonder what the point is in life if no higher power exists." I'm not really sure I understand what you're trying to say here, and perhaps that's the problem. I interpret this to mean that science is more concrete than religion, there's more proof that it exists, etc. if I missed the point, I'm sorry.

Isn't it a fair statement to say that many aspects of science are in fact more art than science. Take medecine for example, while it obviously uses and applies scientific knowledge and it takes a great deal of scientific information to succeed, the application of this knowledge and information is a matter of judgment. It would be obtuse to say in medecine there is one correct way to diagnosis or treat certain symptoms or diseases.

So we come to orgaqnized religion. Off the bat I think we can agree that comparisons are odious. It's foolish to compare science and religion. Wasn't that a Simpson's episode where the Judge said, "In the case of science v. religion I order science to stay 100 ft away from religion at all times." haha. But what I'm saying is religion has proof in the sense that we glean knowledge through other sources and through our judgment and faith we see the fruit of our application. To this end, the existience of God can be seen in something as simple as a meditation on His warmth can obviate the cold in your life.

Therefore, the contention that there's more evidence of science than organized religion doesn't logically lead to the conclusion that no higher power exists. Wouldn't such logic refute advancement in areas of science. If by this estimation, there is plenty of evidence to prove that one scientific method is correct, you could argue that there is no reason to explore alternative resolutions for problems. If there is more evidence to prove the current way works, using this thinking, another way cannot possibly exist because "plenty" of evidence proves your current method. My point is religion is not meant to "prove" science, science is not meant to prove religion. The existience of a higher power though can be shown through logical arguments and personal experiences...perhaps to not the same extent as science, but in much the same manner as science uses to explain many of its basic theories we which all, or we should all, accept.

For an example where science and religion intersect would be Near Death Experiences. I wish I could find the book, but there have been some studies where scientists have induced intoxication and hallucination to attempt to mimic some of the experiences people have admitted to having when faced with a Near Death Experiences. These experiences, strangely, have invovled many of the same characteristics--such a a bright light (which has been said to be an angel, Muhammad, Jesus, Shiva, and the Buddha) which guides the person through their life experiences asking them where in their life they have loved and where in their life they have learned. However attempts to induce this phenomenon through intoxication and hallucinagens (sp?) have failed. It was an interesting read.

Also I apologize for taking a throw-away sentence at the beginning of your post and dwelling on it as such.

Drew said...

i see what you're saying eugene... i wish i'd put more thought into the opening line. the thing is, i just meant to tap into the self doubt that people feel about the existence of a god, using the 2nd person to show that i wasn't referring to myself. i probably should've said "if you've ever doubted the existence of a higher power," and left it at that. it was tacked on at the end, if you want to know the truth.

believe me, i'm going to stay away from hot topics. kudos on the simpsons quote, that's one of the greats haha.

thanks for the comments though man, and i think you should get back to blogging, maybe have one where it's about big issues. personally, i don't pretend to have any answers.

hopefully law school will give my language some more precision so that i avoid these generalities and my propensity towards hyperbole haha. as i go through these lsat books i can already see the focus that one can put on individual words.

Drew said...

Oh, and maybe my night in the ER 3 years back wouldn't qualify as a near death experience. But what I felt was an extreme tension about everything wrong I'd ever done, followed by a complete release of it all. I think, as you said, both science and religion would have an explanation for this.

Emma said...

well i was going to comment about how i'm glad you offered some explaination for this law school decision (to be perfectly honest it surprised me just about as much as learning about the gym teacher's affair) but after reading the previous comments i feel like i should offer something a bit more substantial.

i had a similar line of thought the other day, but it kind of took me in the opposite direction. here i am, surrounded by unimaginable filth as untreated sewage enters the bay, dirty diapers litter the beach, and everyone just keeps having babies & i think how everything i want to accomplish this time around on earth revolves around the central premise of helping people learn how to & want to lower their impact on the earths resources, but then i look around & there are just way too many people. so i think about the fact that the sun is going to explode in 5 billion years (million?) & its not like humans are going to make it that long anyway so whats the use? you try and address one issue by providing free birth control & then women are just peeing out intensly high levels of estrogen into the groundwater & fish cant reproduce b/c their hormone levels are all butchered up.

so we are all mortal, i mean all of us as a species, & the sooner we do it the better for every other living organism. except cows. they wouldnt last long w/o us.

just a clarification - i dont want to work in that pensylvania factory, unless i get to wear a bonnet & ride a wagon to work while eating stone oven baked bread & menonite made lucky charm marshmallows.

ps. dads quote was a nice touch, it really brought him to life :)

Drew said...

thanks for the insight emily. here's another quote by dad that relates to what you said. apparently he had an experiment in high school where the teacher charted populations of bacteria, resulting in a curve that grew exponentially.. until it hit a ceiling, then plummeted just as quickly. dad said, "then we realized that it was a population curve for humans, too."

oh and once he said "i think the world will end with one tree standing, and everyone huddled around it trying to breathe its oxygen in before it dies." that image cracks me up for some reason, i don't know why.

finally, dad told me one time "my friends went to whorehouses in college. i never did." i don't know the relevance of that, but i figured i'd throw it out there.

still his best quote involved you and rainbows and your sexuality though hahaha

one final thought- i told mom about the population of humans and how it's wreaking havoc. she said "but i told uncle --- that, and he said earth can support 5 times the population it does now." i said to mom, "yeah, but then what? the only way is down." she looked puzzled, and i felt bad for bumming her out. so then i said, make me a chocolate cake and she did, and everybody was happy again hahaha