The Theory of Everything

I’m not sure why, but it’s like pulling teeth to get me to update my blog.

Which reminds me… I had a bit of a dental drama last month, which finally resolved with my having a tooth extracted — a back molar, so I don’t have a visible gap. Whether I eventually get an implant, I haven’t decided. For now, the pain is gone, and I’m happy with the situation. But the best part is, I’ll spare you all the gory details — which I’m sure you appreciate!

Now I’ve gone and lost my train of thought… oh, yes. Updating my blog. I’ve been wanting to share this for a while now, but am just now sitting myself down and sternly commanding that I may not get up until I’ve written a post about it.

Okay, so, a couple of months ago, I read Who Made God? Searching For a Theory of Everything, a surprisingly readable book written by the very-brainy Dr. Edgar Andrews (whose biography on the back cover lists no less than six degrees following his name, some of which I’ve never heard of before: BSc, PhD, DSc, FinstP, FIMMM, CEng, and CPhys). He’s no dummy, in other words.

In terms that I could kind of mostly understand, almost, he told of scientists’ dream “to develop a ‘theory of everything’ — a scientific theory that will encompass all the workings of the physical universe in a single self-consistent formulation.” (His words, page 12.) Just when science seems to have found it, they discover something new that doesn’t fit, so then they have to come up with another theory of how all the scientific disciplines work together.

He also notes that there are a number of non-material entities as well, the existence of which we all accept despite lack of physical evidences (love, beauty, faith, justice, etc.); and it would be nice if these, too, could be included into this “theory of everything,” so we can see how all things that exist, in whatever form, have one origin and work together in perfect harmony.

I’m not sure how many scientists share that desire, because I don’t know that many scientists. Usually, I think they’re more concerned with how every material thing works; many might be content with merely enjoying love and friendship and beauty without worrying about how all that meshes with physics and biochemistry.

In any case, I read that book a while back — long before my tooth troubles. Then a couple of weeks ago, I read another one that also mentioned this Theory of Everything: a short nonfiction, The Kingdom of Speech, by novelist Tom Wolfe (author of more than a dozen books, including Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff, and A Man in Full).

It might seem odd that a successful novelist would suddenly write a nonfiction book, but as I understand it, he started out as a journalist, so I guess it’s not that much of a stretch. And, it makes sense that Wolfe’s wordsmithing career may have given him a fascination with words and language. What he’s turned out here is a snarky and enjoyable history of the theory of evolution in general and the evolution of language in particular.

Wolfe gives numerous reasons why language cannot possibly have evolved, Darwin-stylereasons I won’t list here, but if you’re interested, read the book. In sum, he quotes a scholarly, 10,000-word paper published in 2014 by eight brilliant scientists, led by renowned linguist and evolutionist Noam Chomsky, called “The Mystery of Language Evolution.” In that paper, these eminent scholars declared that, after extensive research, they were able to find “essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.” (Quoted on page 156.)

Wolfe states there is only one logical conclusion to which we can come on the subject: language is not an evolved trait, but is an artifact (something man created). Not only that, but it was mankind’s first artifact, and the one that has enabled all others thereafter.

Interesting theory. And who am I to argue with someone as educated and intelligent as Tom Wolfe? I won’t argue, but I will submit that there is another possibility that he’s overlooked — one that I, personally, find more likely, and one that fits not merely the physical evidence, but the scriptural as well.

Think about this:

  1. Man was created in God’s own image, Genesis 1:26-27.
  2. God created all things with words. (“Let there be light,” Genesis 1:3, and so on.)
  3. One Person of the triune God is “the Word,” John 1:1-3.

I firmly believe that each of those statements sheds light on far more than language development; there are depths to all three not touched on in this discussion. But, isn’t it possible —isn’t it probable — that language is neither a trait carried over from some supposed evolutionary ancestor, nor an artifact that early man came up with, but rather, one aspect of God’s “image” that He gave us from the beginning?

From God’s mouth to ours, Genesis 2:7

I think we should look at all the evidence, don’t you?

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New Stuff Coming Up

Us old dogs adapt slowly to new things, but if you hang around a little longer, you’re likely to see some changes here on Ys Words.

Including announcements of new book releases. Woo hoo! After not having published anything since 2015, I’m getting in the game again. With, of course, some changes, because it’s the year for switcheroos!

One new book to watch for is the novella collection I mentioned a little while ago. We have a cover for it now, as you can see, and I love it! It was designed by Ken Raney, who also did all four of my new Gannah books.

I’ve read four (including my own) of the seven stories that will be in it, and they’re all good. I’m assuming the other three are too, but I haven’t read them yet, so I can’t tell you about them. The four I’ve read are all very different, but each is a short, entertaining read, and I’m happy to conspire–except I guess the proper term is collaborate–with the authors to bring this collection of stories to you.

The projected release date is May 8. Watch for the official announcement, with buy links, later this spring!

Speaking of spring, we had the first real snowfall of the winter last night and this morning. A total of about 9 inches. That is apropos of nothing, but I thought I’d mention it, as the first day of spring is next Monday. Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course, in which case it’s the first day of fall.

Okay, back to yakking about books:

I’m also preparing to release the first part of my speculative series I started working on in the fall of 2015. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but as you can see, I first mentioned it this past April when I was at 80,000-some words, and I posted a snippet of it here. I’m still not finished with the final section, but I’m far enough along that I’m ready to unleash the first part into the world. I hope it bites several thousand people and makes them rabid for more. It’s more reasonable to expect it might interest two or three unfortunate individuals, but I can hope for thousands, right?

Series name: The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman.

Book one title: Stillwaters

I don’t yet have a cover design to show you, but I do have a map of the world–my story world, that is. Here’s a peek at the land masses on the planet Umban:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See that little island called Freemansland in the eastern ocean all by itself? That’s where the story opens, which you’d know if you read the preview I posted earlier. As things unfold, you’ll get to see a great deal more of Umban than just Freemansland.

And, in case you wonder why I’m sniffling as I write this, a strange thing happened just now. While drafting a chapter that comes near the end of Book 3 a few minutes ago, I started crying over what was happening in the chapter. I don’t mean I had a tear trickle, I mean I actually cried! Writing the end of The Last Toqeph, which readers tell me is a genuine tear-jerker, made me sniffle. But writing Chapter 63 of Jemma Freeman made me break down. When I go through and make revisions later, I’ll see if it’s really that bad or if it was just the mood I was in when I drafted it.

Appetite whetted yet? No? Why not? What more do you want from me, for crying out loud?

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Maybe a Book Blog Should Be About Books

books-1015594_1280In our last not-so-exciting blogging adventure, I mused about the possibility of making my next post about books… since this is kinda-sorta like a writer’s blog typa thing. One of my devoted readers (my sister) commented privately that she liked that suggestion. So I’ll take her up on it.

As a kid, I was an avid reader. It helped that I had the time to just sit and read. Nowadays, I guess I do again! Because when I started jotting down the titles I’ve read in the past month or so, the list turned out to be longer than I’d expected. I might have missed one or two, but these are the ones that I thought of:

Fiction – on Kindle
Crooked Lines, Holly Michael
At God’s Mercy, L. L. Fine
The Dance, Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (didn’t finish)based on the

Fiction – print books
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke (based on the screenplay of the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke)
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Space Captain Smith, Toby Frostspace captain

Nonfiction – print books
The Heavenly Man (Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun) by Paul Hattaway
Song of Songs: The Divine Romance Between God and Man by Watchman Nee
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

A few thoughts on each:

I love Kindle because it’s cheap and efficient. Where else can you get so many books for free or 99¢? And how else can you store hundreds of volumes in a space measuring roughly 7.25 x 4.5 x .5”? I mean, seriously! As a book lover, how can I justify not having a Kindle?index

And yet… I much prefer reading a print book, and I know many who agree with me. Ebooks certainly have their place, but for the best reading experience, you can’t beat print. For that reason, I find it way easier to acquire ebooks than to actually read them. But every once in a while I’ll force myself to make use of the device.

Back when I was working with The Borrowed Book blog, I met author Holly Michael and was introduced to what was then her latest release, the above-mentioned Crooked Lines. Holly is a very interesting person; I loved the cover art; and the book sounded interesting. So, somewhere along the line, I got myself a copy on Kindle but only got around to reading it last month or so. It was okay. Had some interesting aspects to it, and all in all I’m glad I read it, but it doesn’t make my list of favorites.

Neither does At God’s Mercy. This was one I picked up for free, and it was worth the investment. Or maybe I paid 99¢ for that one. I don’t keep track of these things. But I’m glad I didn’t pay more.

51DaiSB6QML._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_I bought The Dance because I used to rub shoulders with Dan Walsh on Novel Rocket, and many years ago at church, we went through a film series by Gary Smalley that I thought was quite good. So when I saw Walsh and Smalley collaborated on a novel, I took the opportunity to get it on the cheap. Though it’s not the sort of thing I’d ordinarily read, it was quite well done. Smalley is a well-known family counselor, so there’s no surprise that family issues are the basis of the story—nor is it surprising that it has a happy resolution. If that type of tale is your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy this one.

Awhile back I had a discussion with someone about The Brothers Karamazov (how do you pronounce that, by the way? What syllable gets the accent?), and remembered that I’d downloaded a free Kindle copy—English translation, of course—quite some time ago, but hadn’t read it. So I pulled it up, read about 20% of it, and decided to let it rest for now. It’s not terrible, but finishing it didn’t seem to be the best use of my time.bonesetters

After that I deemed it time to do a little weeding-out of my physical to-be-read shelves. I think the first thing I grabbed was The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I loved Tan’s debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, and this, her fourth, was equally a delight. I believe was Stephen King in his book On Writing who said that no amount of training or practice can turn a mediocre writer into a great one. The average person can be taught to write competently, but, as with any other endeavor, true greatness is a gift. In that discussion, he mentioned Amy Tan as one who is greatly gifted.

After having read two of her novels, I wholeheartedly agree.

After that, I picked up the old classic-you-probably-can’t-believe-I’d-never-read-before-because-I’m-supposedly-a-sci-fi-author, 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I’ve never seen the movie, either.) It was… well, pretty much as I expected. A good example of the genre.

white tigerThe White Tiger was an excellent read. It was my first exposure to the Indian/Australian author Adiga, but I’ll keep my eye peeled for more of his novels. A journalist by profession, he made the crossover into fiction with amazing skill in this adroit story of one man’s struggle to escape the constraints of his caste in modern-day India.

I acquired Space Captain Smith some years ago in the course of my membership in The Paperback Swap Club, looking to expand my sci-fi reading. If you liked Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its ilk, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

Now to the nonfiction.

YunOther than the Bible, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I do occasionally indulge. The first on this list, The Heavenly Man, was recommended by my friend in Tasmania. Because I’ve liked her recommendations before, I decided to give it a try—and I was glad I did. The writing style was, in my opinion, clumsy, probably due to geographical differences. But the content made it easy to get past the mechanics. This is the true story of a Chinese man who’s still alive, about my age (a little younger, as I recall) and still active in Christian missions. His experiences put the Christian life in a far different perspective from that which American Christians know. He brings out many points, some obvious and some more subtle, that are well worth noting, and which I’d like to elaborate upon further, but this is already getting too long. Maybe in another post.

In late August, I began a study of the biblical book Song of Solomon and didn’t finish until the end of December. (I’ve been meaning to blog about that for a few months but never have gotten around to it.) After completing the study, I bought this book by Watchman Nee, Song of Songs, for further reading. I’m definitely going to have to talk about all this in another post, or series of them. For now, let’s move on…

My pastor loaned me the two books listed above about homosexuality and the Bible and asked me to read and review them. I’ve done the first part but haven’t written the reviews yet.is god anti

Both were good, but I liked the shorter one, Is God Anti-Gay?, better. When it comes to “What does the Bible teach about…” any subject, it makes sense to me to go to the Bible to see what it says. Why employ a middle man?

The author in this case does a thorough job with it, but while reading his scholarly, linguistic, but altogether readable explanation, I couldn’t help but think that the problem isn’t so much knowing, as believing what the Bible says. Quote chapter and verse all you want, and parse it down to a pile of split hairs; none of that matters. What counts is accepting, and submitting ourselves to, the Scriptures’ authority. Apart from that, it’s just old writings.

Brevity was one reason I liked the first book better. Another is that the author gives some very practical things for a Christian to consider when dealing with the matter of homosexuality in the church, in the political realm, in familial and casual relationships, and in one’s own life. But perhaps the most commendable aspect is the author’s perspective. He is a Christian who himself is attracted to people of the same sex. Therefore he knows whereof he speaks, and what he says is well worth listening to.

So that’s my recent reading list. Maybe I’ll do this again sometime.

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