Well it’s a new year and my one New Year’s Resolution was to revive this into a living and breathing blog again. So let’s start the new year with a discussion on my first Nature paper, well actually it’s Nature Physics, but that’s extra cool for a biologist. Right? This would be a huge deal at BYU normally. I’d get my picture put on the BYU website and everything for a Nature paper. Why not this? Well because hem . . . hem it’s a science fiction. But even so, Nature Futures is well known among the SciFi crowd as a stellar (no pun intended) venue. It’s wacky hard to get a story there and is a qualifying venue for membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (you know that give out the Nebula Award). So I’m counting it as cool.
Anyway, here is the story Démodé for discussion. After watching the IBM computer on Jeopardy, I think Ken Jennings was right on the money when he said, “I for one welcome our new computer overlords.” Add the ability to read scientific papers and its not a great leap to writing them. Add a bit of evolutionary algorithms and voilà you’re passé.
I’ve been too busy of late to write any science posts, but here is a little science fiction piece of mine that was just published today. The title probably leaves you with questions, but first, for your convenience, let me translate the the title. In English the title is: How the mother of Satan’s Red Vampire Died at the Hand of the Ethicless Thing. Now the questions this title probably drew from you might include: Who or what is Satan’s Red Vampire? Why does it have a Spanish name? Who or what was his/her/its Mother? How did she die? Why did I invent the word ‘Ethicless?’ Why not say immoral or bad? What sort of ‘Thing” killed this fine mother? From whose perspective was the ‘Thing’ Ethicless? And does it really have a hand? Did the killing of the mother have a role it it being called ‘Ethicless’ or was it its ‘Ethiclessness’ what drove it to kill? How did the ethicless thing encounter the Mother of Satan’s Red Vampire? And since this is straight up serious SciFi (it has words in it like ‘Higgs’ and ‘Quantum’ so you know it’s legit) why do Satan and Vampires appear in it? Why Red? Why not a blue Vampire? And did Satan’s Red Vampire have a father? Why isn’t he mentioned in the title? Does that mean he does not appear in the story? Or does he arrive Darth Vader-like as a revelation to someone Luke-like? So see? You should read it just to answer these questions and since it’s not post-modern (Well not very. I do tend to launch stories in the middle of the action and end them the same way leaving open the question when the piece started what was beginning? ?nd when the story ceased what ended?) these questions are answered! But first you must read it. It can be found here.
There seems to be a temptation to borrow Christian fundamentalist creationist ideas and literature and twist it into a muddle that LDS theology should embrace. As if taking things from middle ages theologies and slapping it onto the restoration was a good idea. Evolution is one of the most powerful ideas to enter into human knowledge from a scientific perspective since Newton and earlier. Here is a podcast in which I explore reasons why I think evolution fits beautifully into Mormonism and its novel ideas of an embodied god and eternal progression. Reading creationist literature to learn about evolution is like reading 19th Century anti-Mormon literature to find out about the LDS Church: It’s outdated, wrong, and frankly so juvenilely lacking any scientific merit that you have to be fairly scientifically uniformed to be taken in by it.
So to begin. Assume that the story that science tells is tout court correct. That humans evolved from apelike ancestors and have existed as a species for roughly two-hundred thousand years and became behaviorally modern about fifty-thousand years ago. They have been living and dying for almost eight-thousand generations.
Dying. What do I mean by that? Actually, it can mean a lot of things. For example, it can mean the cessation of living. Scripturally it can also mean a number of things. Paul’s letter to Romans is a great place to start. No I take that back, Jim Faulconer’s book on Romans is a great place to start. Look at the attached photo It shows the index entries for ‘death’ in his book on Romans giving a short peek into the way Paul uses the word. Continue reading
This is being posted semi-concurrently at BCC (Posted there about a week earlier than here).
‘There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!’ snarled Voldemort.
‘You are quite wrong.’ said Dumbledore . . .
—————– Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. p. 718
One of the key challenges in defining a post-Darwinian LDS theology is that of the Fall. The Fall is considered one of the foundational pillars of Mormon doctrine (as Bruce R. McConkie has often argued). This because the Fall is what provides the backdrop for the necessity of the Atonement, another foundational LDS doctrinal pillar. Continue reading
Ben Park has compiled a list of Essential Readings in Mormonism that includes both fiction and non-fiction. After listing 10 essential reads, he adds a list of ‘Nearly Essential Reads’ which includes The Scholar of Moab. Wonder why? You know what to do to find out.
President Monson’s son weighed in on the debate about introducing wolves back into Utah with one of the most insightful articles written on the subject. It ends with this:
As Latter-day Saints, we are doctrinally obligated to preserve the Lord’s creations. Encouraging wolves to resume their ecological role in Utah is not the only way we can demonstrate our commitment to living things, but to today’s ecologically sophisticated world, it would be one of the most demonstrative and courageous.
This may be one to share with your legislature friends. Here is the link.
In silence I’ve watched the splashes of opinion on Facebook and among blogs on gun control. Mostly because I see the issue framed in such complexity that I knew I could not put up a comment with enough depth to capture what I feel. I felt sorrow and devastation at the horrific shooting in Newtown. I found it unbelievable and still can’t get my head around the loss of so many innocents. I’ve shed tears almost at every mention. Continue reading
Having trouble picking which of my books you would like to give for Christmas? Here is a handy guide I’ve created to make it easier!
You can read more about them here:
A Short Stay in Hell
Rifts of Rime
The Scholar of Moab
Or just pick them numberswiki.com
up at Amazon!
Scholar of Moab
Rifts of Rime
A Short Stay in Hell.
Or Barns and Noble (do a quick search)!
Or, if you like to delve into my sappy side, my Christmas novel, The Gift of the King’s Jeweler, published by Convenant Communications back in the day, has just been released on Kindle.
From my friend Blair Hodges:
“Too often, the Sunday School teacher doesn’t have a sympathetic understanding of the place of science, philosophy, the arts, and history in the lives of young people, consequently, he depreciates, even belittles these branches of knowledge in his classes. In this way, often without realizing it, he creates confusions and conflicts, instead of an over-all harmony, such as spiritual growth should produce…
“The Sunday School teacher who makes a pastime of ridiculing men of science, and of holding them up as the arch enemies of religion, usually loses the respect of the most intelligent members of his class. Others, more info
who for the time being accept his conclusions, are forced later on to believe they must choose one or the other. Sometimes, they don’t choose religion. And if they don’t, the deceptions of unscrupulous and irreligious teachers of science may have been one of the causes; but it’s equally true that the Sunday School teachers themselves may have been the worst offenders.”
Ezra J. Poulson, “Make Your Teaching Live,” Instructor Vol. 83, No. 4 (April 1948): 178-9, 199.
So true. Within science I’ve seen far more damage done by members who dismiss science as somehow anti-religious than any other form of anti-Mormonism.