OK, so I love the content of biology, but it should pass a test (no pun intended). This “test” is basically to determine my knack for microscopy. Therefore, I might take a non-majors biology class (along with an unrelated course to accompany it), which is also especially good since I have been out of high school biology for over 10 years. It should be quite easy in content, given all the stuff I’ve read so far. Yet we seldom used microscopes, since the sp-ed high school I attended did not have a strong lab focus. And when we did, just like toy microscopes I have used, it was less than satisfactory.
This will determine if I should pursue biology as a major. If so, after all these years I would have been correct being the stalwart I have been for the subject, and I would go for it (perhaps as part of the proposed double major mentioned earlier in this blog. But if not, hey, I can read websites or popular-level books on it. Maybe even textbooks. College isn’t the only way of learning, but keep in mind of what makes college what it is: majors (and all the paraphernalia that goes with them) form a clique of sorts, and are separated by interest, in which one could (typically) care less about another. Would a math major penetrate into the music major’s coursework, or the business major into biology, or the chemistry’s into criminal justice? Barring minors and double majors, most likely not. Besides, unless you are in that field of study, the level of material covered, especially in the junior and senior level courses (and perhaps even some sophomore ones), the info, and detail covered therein, would be of little consequence. You must follow your own passions. Alas, you must be willing to make trade-offs among courses, in which case you can only take some courses, but not all, in a major’s elective or flexible core sequence. That could be the more troubling side, but you have your whole life to learn new things. After all, that’s what periodicals, trainings, and for some, grad school is for.
And most intellectual territory has become very parochial and specialized, so you just have to find a niche. For many people, their whole career may revolve around one course in their college years, so most other knowledge is lost. And many courses are just stepping stones. In some ways, it shows God’s sovereignty, in that he leads you what is necessary now (and thus part of his will) and what isn’t (stuff you learned for that time but is no longer relevant). Moreover, while knowledge is power, it can be abused. Moreover, in many cases, as we all know, ignorance can be bliss sometimes (cf. Eccl. 1:18). This does not mean we can’t learn, but it should be kept within bounds. Also too much bondage to knowledge can cause worldliness and even idolatry. (Rom 1:21-23, 25; 1 Cor 8:1-3)
You won’t learn everything there is to know. If we did, we’d cease to be human. Thus, as humans, thank the One who gave you any access to knowledge at all, including your very mind! And enjoy what you DO learn rather than worry about what you can’t. By the way, if you are in college, as you meet with your advisers, when picking electives, I would imagine it would often be based on past courses and your feelings on those.
Don’t be too smart for your own good!
So, today I was browsing through my Plant Phys textbook. Mind you, I put my actual textbooks (Plant Phys, Animal Phys, and Cell Bio, as well as a book on Biomechanics that is unlikely to be used in a course) away in the closet until I actually take those courses at the university (as part of my double major in Biology and Geoscience), which are either updated editions or are a different text altogether. And I may not take such a course at all. (If that is the case, they will be judged then.)
Also, based on present conditions, there would be more information than needed for current purposes in those books; as opposed to popular titles like the Scientific American Library I collect (among others). Yet I have donated them when I was ready to move on, given that I got a good grasp on it. Moreover, many of my college courses in both majors may reflect much of their content.
As for the content of the Plant Phys text (and all other properly defined textbooks), which looks worthless now, may be worthy and useful when it is done in the context of a course. But since I am not at that level yet (at least not scholastically, though I know quite a bit at the undergrad level outside of classwork), I am reading this material through the lens of one ill-equipped. After I earn my degree, it should be second nature, whether I work following then in something related to biology, earth science, a little of both — or even neither!
But, rather than throwing them away (as I have often done previously), I’ll just put them away somewhere, until I encounter those subjects along the line in college (or if the Lord directs me, by self-study, or grad school, etc.)
Textbooks were never meant to be novels!
(The title of the post, by the way, happens to be the moral of this whole account!)
It dawned on me that chemistry may not be the way to go since both the degree and the careers to which it leads are meticulous and mathematically intense. But if I get so consumed with trying to be too much of a “polymath,” this may deter me from normal adult duties, like bills, raising a family (if applicable), and especially, work.
So that leaves me with the geosciences and biology as choices for majors at my choice college (West Chester U, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia). But since I’m not too partial to either, I thought, hey, why not get the best of both worlds? So I might as well get, you guessed it, a double major!
They share a few courses (i.e., physics, chemistry, math, etc.), most of which I shall complete during the community college portion. Most of the work at West Chester will likely be in the specific fields of the majors.
And these two often intertwine. For example, consider work with plants, and the branches of biology that deal with them, directly or indirectly. The plants are the subject of botany; herbivores, their carnivorous or omnivorous predators are considered in zoology; and their interaction with each other is ecology. Then you have genetics and cell biology, concerning how all this stuff runs. And there are many subdisciplines of these, many of which are “tie-ins” of each other. As for the geoscience side of things, mineralogy and petrology deal with minerals and rocks, respectively. Many processes shape the earth, and there are courses for that. The weather, of course, is discussed in meteorology, and astronomy shows how celestial bodies affect what goes on this terrestrial ball.
Or, from a geological perspective, if I pursued petroleum geology, well, guess what, petroleum is brought to you, by, yes, fossils! Paleontology, a course in the geoscience lineup, is essentially where biology and geology meet, thereby making many biological courses relevant.
Whichever major I choose to center my career on (if it is only one, as usual), the other one is doubtless beneficial. Pray for God’s guidance for me, as He directs one’s steps no matter what his/her plans are. (cf. Prov 16:9)
I hope the field isn’t too rocky — or wild!