I write with teenagers in mind.
I can’t see any great evidence that humans have any ability to access anything other than the material world. Beyond that, who knows, but there’s no good evidence that would take me to any particular belief.
I didn’t study science beyond high school level, but I’d been reading a lot of science books by people like Richard Dawkins, Matt Ridley and Daniel Dennett. I also spent a year working on a fellowship in a research centre – the Allan Wilson Centre – where I got a hands-on look at their work sequencing DNA.
I respond well to what I read of Immanuel Kant’s idea that the world as we see it is absolutely a function of the way our brain works. In the modern parlance, it’s an evolved machine that we carry with us.
I like the concept of teenagers and philosophy.
I just love the idea that people disappear into the story for a while. You grab a book, and you want to get back to it, and your life becomes a bit of an interruption. I would love readers to feel like that.
Our world is limited by the machinery we carry. It’s very different to the 18th and 19th century Enlightenment scientists who were mostly men of God and thought it was their quest to uncover God’s great plan.
Science is a little bit more than a wonderful way of modelling and predicting; it’s a wonderful technical abstraction. I think science is a really wonderful technical abstraction.
The Idea enters the brain from the outside. It rearranges the furniture to make it more to its liking. It finds other Ideas already in residence, and picks fights or forms alliances. The alliances build new structures, to defend themselves against intruders.
I’m a school teacher, and later on, well past my formal education, I became very interested in science.
Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.
Thought, like any parasite, cannot exist without a compliant host.
The successful Idea travels from mind to mind, claiming new territory, mutating as it goes.
Superstition is the need to view the world in terms of simple cause and effect.
There is a fascination with fear. It grabs our attention.