“Tell me though,” she continued, “Why me? I know that you’ve spoken to the Wilsons and to your vicar, but you seem to have felt that you owed me an explanation too.”
“Cathy, you are obviously intelligent as well as being nice – I’ve always valued your opinion – even when we disagree – but I don’t enjoy us being at odds. There have been times lately when there seems to have been an edge to your attitude to me. It’s seemed as if you dislike me personally as much as my opinions. That has upset and worried me because I do like you as well as respecting you.”
Cathy sat back in her chair, surprised and confused. She hadn’t realised that what she’d said had upset him, or that it would have mattered to him. She had never really given much thought to what she thought of him.
She noticed that he was still speaking, but she interrupted him.
“Hang on!” she said, “Before we go any further, can I just say something?”
He stopped speaking and waited for her to continue.
“Steve, I’m sorry if I’ve either upset or worried you. That was never my intent, but, be honest. You have sometimes come across as a bit other-worldly, a bit too serious, and I suppose that I haven’t respected that aspect of you. I have felt that you’ve needed to ‘get real’ as they say.”
Her head was in her hands as she thought carefully about what to say next.
“Steve, if I’ve upset you, I’m sorry. It’s nice that you’ve taken the trouble to explain – and it’s clear that I’ve under-estimated you. Let’s begin again shall we. Tell me what you were going to say when I interrupted you.”
“Okay!” he said, “ Are you sure. All right, here goes! Despite what you may have thought, I have never tried to limit my thoughts to a religious solution. It may surprise you but there are quite a few eminent scientists who are also Christians. You just have to be careful how you apply the description ‘Christian’.”
“Anyway, that’s a digression from our starting point about whether evolution has a purpose or is it merely a blind process of adaptation to circumstances. Are we – can we honestly believe – that we are the culmination of Evolution. Even if we are, do we, as humans, have a purpose or are we just killing time, making the most of things until our planet burns to a crisp?”
“Underlying that is the question of free-will. Do we actually make conscious decisions or has Evolution, through our genes pre-disposed us to make our decisions according to a biological algorithm.”
“Biological algorithm?” she asked, “Are you thinking of the autonomic nervous system that controls things like our breathing, heart-rate and such? Bodily functions that happen without our having to think about them. As though we are little more than a collection of automata – biological robots.”
“Exactly!” he replied. “I take it we’ve been reading the same types of books?”
“It seems so,” she said, “I noticed Dennett’s book, ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” on your bookshelf.”
“Okay!” he said, “We do seem to be on the same page, but I’m not convinced that our freewill is compromised by the same type of processes.”
“What is it that you believe do though?” she asked. “I also noticed Dawkin’s The Blind Watchmaker on your bookshelf. You’ve reappraised your thoughts about religion. What have you decided about Evolution”
“I’m an economist,” he said, “In general, I don’t make decisions. I give advice about choices.”
“You can’t be serious!” she exclaimed.
I began this post with a photo that I used just over two weeks ago for its relevance to Steve’s soliloquy about what to say to his friends and the Vicar about his faith crisis. The photo seems even more relevant to this post.
Because these two characters are dancing a verbal tango, I’ll feature yet another photo of a more physical type of dancing.
EXIF data were: Fujifilm X-T4 camera plus Fujinon XF 16-55 mm f/2.8. Shutter speed was 1/1000 secs @ f/2.8 and 41.4 mm. ISO was 6400.