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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Polkinghorne Quotes #3: Why is the Tea Kettle Boiling?

Why is the kettle boiling? Answer#1: The kettle is boiling because the burning gas heats the water. True. Answer#2: The kettle is boiling because I want to make a cup of tea and would you like to have a cup with me? True.

There is no conflict between those two answers; they are in fact complementary. In an exactly similar way I don't have to choose between science and religion. "The universe sprang into being about fifteen billion years ago through the fiery explosion of the big bang." That is true, but it does not preclude my also saying, "The universe came into being and remains in being because of the Word of a Creator whose mind and purpose are behind all of the scientific truths that we perceive."

From Is Science Enough?, September, 1994 Lecture at The University of the South

The teakettle analogy is perhaps Polkinghorne’s most frequently repeated quote. Actually, since it seems to change with each repetition, it should probably be classified as something other than a quote. I’ve seen the analogy appear in many different forms, in articles and lectures by Polkinghorne himself, and in books, articles, lectures, emails, and blog entries by others (this one here substituting coffee for tea – something Polkinghorne as a good Brit probably considers heretical).

I believe that one's view of divine action is the most significant factor in demarcating Christians that accept evolution from those that do not. It is certainly more important than how one thinks of scripture as many anti-evolution Christians (probably most supporters of ID for example) do NOT interpret scripture literally. For those Christians whose model of divine action is restricted to God intervening in nature in a way that is unexplainable by natural causes, evolution will be forever troublesome. Evolutionary theory does not allow for gaps in the natural record, and the scientific evidence for this theory continues to bear fruit. However, for Christians who see God acting in and through nature, who see nature as simply a secondary cause and not as a final cause, who believe that a scientific description of an event or process does not diminish God’s active control of that event or process, evolution can be fully compatible with faith in a God who acts in this world.

Other Polkinghorne Quotes: [Introduction] [Previous] [Next]

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Weird Physics, Gravity, and doubting Evolution

At least until several years ago, I was more interested in physics than biology. The reason for this was due in part to my own academic interests (mathematics and computer science), both of which interface closely with physics. And it doesn’t hurt that my alma mater (University of Waterloo) is home to the Perimeter Institute.

Physics can be really, really weird. Anyone who doesn’t believe this has probably never cracked open a book on theoretical physics. General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory can make you dizzy (a good dizzy of course). Even if I just barely understand the basics, I do enjoy reading and thinking about these ideas, particularly when combined with a healthy dose of speculative science fiction. (There are those who argue that String Theory itself is speculative science fiction).

Last week The Telegraph ran an article on a physicist named Garrett Lisi who has proposed a “Grand Unified Theory” tying together all the fundamental forces of physics. (HT: Entangled States). This is something Einstein was unsuccessful in doing despite years of effort. And Lisi’s theory may not even be that weird :

… his proposal is remarkable because, by the arcane standards of particle physics, it does not require highly complex mathematics.

Even better, it does not require more than one dimension of time and three of space, when some rival theories need ten or even more spatial dimensions and other bizarre concepts. And it may even be possible to test his theory, which predicts a host of new particles, perhaps even using the new Large Hadron Collider atom smasher that will go into action near Geneva next year.
If Lisi’s theory proves correct (and many are calling it a long shot), we may finally have a better understanding of gravity, and how it relates to the other three fundamental forces. For, although just about everyone understands gravity at a basic level, no one really understands why it works the way it does.

That we don’t understand it fully is no reason to doubt the Theory of Gravity. Although initially there were those who opposed Newton’s theory on biblical grounds (after all, God held the stars in place, not gravity) very few people doubt it today. It is fascinating, however, to compare the acceptance of the Theory of Gravity with the acceptance of the Theory of Evolution, particularly when we may have better evidence for some aspects of the Theory of Evolution. Check out Gordon Glover’s post at Beyond the Firmament where he discusses this issue.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Polkinghorne Quotes #2: The Dangers of a Designer God

Speaking of those who claim to have scientifically detected intelligence behind the evolution of the universe, Polkinghorne states:

“Yet it is possible that they are being offered a gift by the Greeks, as much to be feared as to be welcomed. For the God so discerned seems but an austere and impersonal deity; the ground of a cosmic process which rolls on without obvious concern for the fate of individuals. He commands our intellectual respect but not our love; we can wonder at his works but we are not moved to trust him in our personal lives."

"The offering of a revived natural theology would have proved to be a Trojan horse for Christianity if it replaced the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Great Mathematician”

From “Science and Providence”, page 4

As I mentioned in my last post, I believe that the ID movement is potentially dangerous to Christian theology because of its focus on natural theology. Polkinghorne’s Trojan horse metaphor is particularly apt. Those who use the gift of modern science as a sword to defend the faith may find that sword to be lethally double-edged.

But Polkinghorne’s warning needs to be heeded by Evolutionary Creationists (ECs) and Theistic Evolutionists (TEs) as well. Those of us that acknowledge no gaps in natural processes are often fond of pointing to the Big Bang, the fine-tuned universe, and the anthropic principle as evidence of God’s providence and design. This may indeed be so. But the initial act of speaking the universe into being is not the totality of God’s creative act; creation is not just about origins. In Denis Alexander’s words, we must be “robust theists” who acknowledge God’s ongoing and continuous creation.

ID proponents often accuse ECs of being little more than Deists ie. acknowledging a God who started the process and but who is uninvolved thereafter. This is a potentially valid criticism of the EC position if we leave no room for divine action after the initial parameter calibration for the infant universe. But that is not my position, nor is it the position of most ECs. We worship a God that is intimately involved in his ongoing creation. He is the God of the bible, the God who led the Israelites out of Egypt, the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

Other Polkinghorne Quotes: [Introduction] [Previous] [Next]

Sunday, 18 November 2007

An Evangelical Approach to Intelligent Design: Some Initial Thoughts

I have not discussed Intelligent Design (ID) on this blog outside of a few passing comments. Given that this is a blog about evangelicals and evolution, I’m sure some of you found this to be a puzzling omission, somewhat like discussing evangelicals and American politics without once mentioning Republicans. But evangelicals who do not support ID need to tread very, very carefully when stepping into the ID minefield, since voicing opposition to ID can result in being labeled a compromiser, a materialist, or even a Darwinbot.

I suspect that public awareness of ID will increase significantly in the next few months. The ID movie Expelled will be released in February 2008, and media coverage of the movement, as well as public debate on the merits of ID, may exceed the coverage and debate that surrounded the 2005 Dover trial. Last week PBS aired Judgment Day, its documentary of the trial, and the public discussion has started to heat up.

So the time is probably right for me to provide some initial thoughts on ID. I will simply make some brief statements describing my views. Comprehensive arguments supporting these statements will need to wait for future posts.

A) Statements about the ID

(Note: See my What does Evolution Mean? post for an explanation of the various definitions of evolution that I use below (eg. E3, and E4)).

1. Design and Evolution are not necessarily incompatible

Acceptance of “design” does not necessitate a rejection of evolution, nor vice-versa. Many thoughtful people accept both design and evolution. There are those who agree with the E4 definition of evolution (that evolutionary mechanisms offer a complete physical explanation for the development of life), but still see strong evidence for design in the universe. Other’s, (eg. Michael Behe and Stephen Jones), support the E3 definition for evolution (ie. common descent), but also strongly support ID. (See here http://telicthoughts.com/see-what-they-see/ for one vocal ID proponent’s comments on the compatibility of design and evolution).

2. ID movement: Opposing evolution seems to be the primary objective

Notwithstanding #1 above, it seems to me that the primary objective of most ID arguments, articles, websites, and organizations is to disseminate anti-evolution propaganda. ID is primarily a weapon used to demonstrate that biological evolution is false; positive conclusions seem secondary.

I reject this version of ID. I not only accept the evidence for evolution (both E3 and E4), but also disagree with the ID statement that design provides a better explanation for the development of life on earth. First, design and evolution are not competing origin alternatives. Second, evolution provides an excellent physical explanation for the development of life on earth.

3. Anti-ID movement: Promoting a Purposeless Universe

On the other hand, it seems that the primary objective of most ID opponents is the promotion of a purposeless universe. Anti-design arguments are used as weapons against theism in general, and Christianity in particular. There certainly are vocal ID opponents that are also Christians (eg. Ken Miller) but these voices are often drowned out by the “no design – no purpose” mantra.

I reject this type of opposition to ID. The declaration that design and purpose are logically impossible given the randomness inherent in evolution is a metaphysical statement, not a scientific statement. I also claim that this metaphysical statement is completely wrong.

4. Intelligent Design is not identical to Creationism

Intelligent Design is not identical to Creationism (at least the Creationism of the “Young Earth (YEC)” and “Flood Geology” varieties). The two are often conflated leading ID to be referred to derogatorily as Intelligent Design Creationism. I do not believe this is fair since most ID proponents do not come from a YEC heritage, do not agree with YEC ideas, and do not participate in dishonest science like the RATE project.

It is true that ID has welcomed YEC support, has turned a blind eye to gross flaws in YEC science, and has even allowed “creationism” to evolve into “intelligent design” through the transitional “cdesign proponentsists” form (see this post for an explanation). So non-specialist observers can be forgiven for equating the two. But I maintain they are not the same. I think this note from Michael Roberts to the ASA mailing list says it best.

“ID may not be an evolved version of YEC, but many of its genes have been spliced in from YEC.”
5. Attempts to Detect Design will Fail

I provisionally claim that attempts to scientifically detect “design” within the universe will be a failure. Notice what I am not denying that ID can ever make scientific claims. I am simply stating that I suspect their attempts to demonstrate design scientifically will not be successful.

B) An Evangelical Approach to ID

1. Christians should Emphasize Purpose rather the Design

Design is a tricky word, and depending on the definition, I could agree that God designed the universe. However, I think that God’s design, his plans, his processes, and his purposes, are far beyond anything we can imagine let alone expect. They do not fit our concept of design, a concept coloured by modern engineering. But God is not an engineer, and design may be an unhelpful term in defining the relationship between Creator and creation. I much prefer the word purpose. The God revealed most fully in Jesus Christ, has a purpose for the universe and for humanity. Proclaiming this purpose is our mandate.

Also note, it is clear that God has a purpose for the universe, but I do not believe this is equivalent to saying that there is purpose (or design) inherent in the universe.

2. ID: Theologically Dangerous?

My primary discomfort with the ID movement, however, is theological. It seems to elevate natural theology above God’s revelation in the incarnation and his written word. Why are we still searching for evidence of a designer? Do we not trust God or the witnesses to the resurrection? Why, like Thomas needed to see the scars in Jesus’ hands, must we see proof of God’s fingerprints in creation?

I am not saying that we should ignore God’s revelation in creation. It is part of the coherent package of knowledge that supports our Christian faith. However, it is not the foundation of our faith or knowledge. Any attempt to make natural theology the foundation of our faith is dangerous.

C) So where do I stand?

It is clear that I do not identify with the ID movement. On the other hand, I share a faith in Jesus Christ with many, many ID proponents. I also disagree with the majority of ID opponents that claim meaning is simply what we make of it, and that there is no overall purpose for creation. In a debate so thoroughly polarized, where does my view fit? Maybe like Owen Gingerich, I should describe my position as intelligent design (small I, small d) rather than identifying with the ID movement itself. However, I’m uncomfortable with even this. In fact, I’d prefer to wear the label Creationist (albeit an Evolutionary Creationist) rather than Intelligent Design Proponent. At least with creation, I am identifying with a concept that is thoroughly biblical.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Polkinghorne Quotes #1: God the Fellow-Sufferer

“God is not a spectator, but a fellow-sufferer, who has himself absorbed the full force of evil. In the lonely figure hanging in the darkness and dereliction of Calvary the Christian believes that he sees God opening his arms to embrace the bitterness of the strange world he has made. The God revealed in the vulnerability of the incarnation and in the vulnerability of creation are one. He is the crucified God, whose paradoxical power is perfected in weakness, whose self-chosen symbol is the King reigning from the gallows”

From Science and Providence, page 68

Theodicy and the "Problem of Evil" are, I believe, the most difficult intellectual problems we face as followers of Christ. And it is more than just an intellectual problem since it has led many to abandon the faith, and their trust in God. I certainly do not have great answers. However, when we finally do get a satisfactory answer, I believe that answer will include Polkinghorne’s point that God is a fellow-sufferer.

Faith is not so much about belief but trust, trust in the living God who is the foundation of our being. Questions and doubt are an integral part of faith, not its opposite. As human parents, we encourage our children to ask questions. A child that asks no questions is disintrested or worse.

So when faced with the problem of evil, in which type of God do you wish to place your trust: A “Designer God” who designed all things in their intricate detail, including things that bring pain, suffering, death, and destruction? A “Philosopher God” who answers all your questions including why there is so much pain, suffering, death, and destruction? Or a suffering God, a crucified, resurrected God who has experienced pain, suffering, and death, and in so doing has destroyed the very power of death? For me, the answer to that question is easy.

Other Polkinghorne Quotes: [Introduction] [Next]

Polkinghorne Quotes: Introduction

John Polkinghorne is one of my favourite authors. His writing is intellectually challenging, spiritually stimulating, constantly engrossing, and surprisingly humble for someone so obviously brilliant. He is completely unafraid of tackling the most difficult issues or stating his conclusions even if they risk alienting his target constituency. I find that most of his works must be reread two or three times to be fully appreciated, but I consider this a bonus as I learn something new each time; it is like getting 2 or 3 books for the price of one.

Along with Arthur Peacocke and Ian Barbour, Polkinghorne is acknowledged as one of the giants in the science-faith dialogue. He also approaches this dialogue from an evangelical perspective. Given the relative dearth of insightful evangelical thought on the interface between science and faith, we should be thankful that one of the few evangelical voices is so incredibly good. Polkinghorne has earned accolades in both of his careers, his first as a physicist and his second as an Anglican priest and theologian.

Given his impact on my own thought, I will from time-to-time be posting selected quotes from Polkinghorne on the science / faith dialogue. For some I will add a short comment of my own. For others I’ll simply let the quote speak for itself.

Published Polkinghorne Quotes:

Sunday, 11 November 2007

What is an Evangelical? Am I one? Why do I choose to wear the Label?

My objective for this site is to promote and foster a specifically evangelical dialogue on the subject of evolution. Others are certainly invited to participate, but the invitation is primarily directed to evangelicals. What are the implications of biological evolution for our specifically evangelical theology? What are the implications for our faith? Are there areas of evolutionary science that have been tainted with philosophical assumptions that contradict core evangelical beliefs? How do we distinguish between the physical evidence of God’s creation and the metaphysical assumptions so often tied to the explanations of the evidence? These are some of the questions I believe evangelicals should be discussing.

Several weeks ago I provided a brief overview of the meaning of evolution. Thus I have provided a partial definition of how I believe this dialogue should be framed. However, to understand what a specifically evangelical dialogue would look like, I should also define what evangelical means.

What is the definition of an evangelical? What is the difference between an evangelical Christian and Christians who are not evangelicals? Where and how do we draw the line? Maybe more pertinent to the discussion in this particular dialogue, what reason do I have for considering myself within the evangelical fold? And why do I even want to hold onto the label? As I’ve confessed previously, being an evangelical can be downright embarrassing given the perception of the movement in western society, perceptions often completely supported by the attitudes and actions of very broad swaths of evangelicalism that are still tainted by fundamentalism. I’ll deal with my own personal reasons for self-identifying as an evangelical later. For the definition, I’ll turn to another of my favourite authors, John Stackhouse.

Stackhouse is an evangelical historian, philosopher, and theologian. His is also the senior advisor for the Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism (CRCE), an initiative of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). In this capacity he has provided an updated definition of evangelicalism. Given how notoriously difficult it is to define evangelicalism, I applaud Stackhouse for his succinct, and I believe successful, definition. His definition shares some similarities to my own overview of evangelical distinctives where I proposed that acceptance of biological evolution does not contradict an evangelical expression of the Christian faith. This similarity is not surprising since we both utilize David Bebbington’s framework proposed in Evangelicalism in Modern Britain. However, I believe Stackhouse provides a more practical and comprehensive definition. He also includes some astute observations on how the definition should be used.

Stackhouse’s definition of evangelical includes the following six criteria:

1. Orthodox and Orthoprax: Evangelicals subscribe to the main tenets—doctrinal, ethical, and liturgical—of the churches to which they belong.
2. Crucicentric: Evangelicals are Christocentric in their piety and preaching, and emphasize particularly the necessity of Christ’s salvific work on the Cross.
3. Biblicist: Evangelicals affirm the Bible as God’s Word written, true in what it says and functioning as their supreme written guide for life.
4. Conversionist: Evangelicals believe that everyone must trust Jesus as Saviour and follow him as Lord; and everyone must co-operate with God in a life of growing spiritual maturity.
5. Missional: Evangelicals actively co-operate with God in his mission of redeeming the world, and particularly in the proclamation of the gospel.
6. Transdenominational: Evangelicals gladly partner with other Christians who hold these concerns, regardless of denominational stripe, in work to advance the Kingdom of God.

The middle four criteria are slightly modified versions of Bebbington’s. The 6th criterion is adopted from George Marsden (Fundamentalism and American Culture and Evangelicalism and Modern America), while the 1st is added by Stackhouse himself, a criterion almost certainly assumed by both Bebbington and Marsden.

There are a couple of significant points to notice in this definition. First, each of the criteria is relatively broad. Doctrinal hair-splitting, so often the bane of evangelical unity, is completely absent. So, for example, in #3 there is no mention of inerrancy or even infallibility. Many evangelicals do indeed affirm the inerrancy of scripture, and most affirm its infallibility. However, since there is significant disagreement on what those terms mean, I agree that it is helpful to avoid these adjectives in the definition itself. (Interestingly the EFC’s own Statement of Faith does include infallibility, although not inerrancy. The American equivalent to the EFC, the NAE, does the same in its statement of faith).

Second, Stackhouse insists that none of these criteria are unique to evangelicals, but that evangelicals uniquely affirm all six criteria as a cohesive set.

“[This] set of criteria functions properly only as a set. There is nothing peculiarly evangelical about any of them singly, of course. It is only this set that helps scholars, pollsters, leaders and interested others “pick out” evangelicals from Christians in general or observant Christians in general or observant Protestants in general, and so on. Thus it must be employed as a set, without compromise, as in the common polling practice of counting as evangelicals those who score “highly” on some scale derived from such criteria. No, evangelicals do not compromise on any of these values: They don’t think it’s okay to fudge on the atonement or the Bible, or to neglect churchgoing, or avoid evangelism."

So these six broad in scope but mandatory criteria define evangelicalism. But why do I personally identify with the movement? Why, if I do not agree with many of the political, intellectual, and cultural beliefs associated with evangelicalism, do I wish to label myself an evangelical?

I strongly identify with evangelicals, and affirm that I am an evangelical, precisely because the six criteria defined above closely match my own view. I agree with the doctrinal consensus affirmed by the apostles, the church fathers, the reformers, and the leaders of the Great Awakenings that birthed modern evangelicalism. The cross of the incarnate, suffering God is central to redemption. God has revealed himself through scripture, and we must take seriously its claim for authority. Being a follower of Christ includes more than intellectual assent; it includes radical trust in God’s guidance. We are all called to proclaim and participate in the Kingdom of God. And we must not let denominational differences hinder this proclamation or participation. I believe all six criteria are important.

No I am not a hard-line political right-winger, anti-science, anti-intellectual, against all forms of biblical criticism, or a participant in the culture wars. But I fail to see how any of these latter characteristics, so often descriptive of evangelicals, conform to the six criteria in Stackhouse’s definition of evangelical. In many ways, I believe these characteristics conflict with our self-identifying criteria of being orthodox, crucicentric, biblical, conversionist, missional, and transdenomination Christians.

In short, I want to be called evangelical because, despite the disrepute brought on the movement by many evangelicals, its core characteristics are true and right. I do not wish to be referred to as post-evangelical because of this disrepute, just as I do not wish to be called post-Christian because Christians acting in a un-Christ like manner have sullied Christ’s name. Just as we should not let anti-evolutionary creationists prevent us from proclaiming creation, neither should we let fundamentalist evangelicals prevent us from proclaiming the evangel.

So maybe the next time I introduce myself, I’ll say, “Hi, I’m Steve, and I’m an evangelical creationist”.

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Updated Resources

I have posted a Table of Contents for this blog. This includes links to the most important posts - you can consider it the blog FAQ. Lately I’ve found that I’m often referring readers back to my past posts. (Hopefully you don’t find this too irritating). As a (very) part-time blogger, I just don’t have the time to rearticulate the same argument numerous times. Or maybe I’m just lazy. For new readers, the table of contents is probably the place to start.

My Internet Resources page has also been updated. Notable additions include:

Finally, I’ve also updated my Selected Bibliography. This includes a list of resources that I found helpful in coming to my own conclusions on evolution and its implications for an evangelical expression of the Christian faith.

Top Posts

(Last Updated May 14, 2008)

A) The Definitions

1. Evolution: The Meaning of Evolution: A Framework for Christians
2. Evangelical: What is an Evangelical? Am I one? Why do I choose to wear the Label?
3. Dialogue: Not a definition, but the “Why”: Evangelicalism and Evolution: Why the Discussion Matters and the “How”: Dialogue, Debate, Silence, or Confrontation: How should we Approach the Topic of Evolution?

B) Scripture
Evangelicals take a very high view of scripture. The perception that evolution is incompatible with God’s revelation in scripture is at the heart of Evangelicalism’s antagonism towards the scientific theory. Here are four posts that outline why I believe the scientific theory for evolution & a high view of scripture are compatible.

1. Scripture or Science: Do we need to Choose?
2. Literal or Liberal: Our only Choices for Interpreting the Bible?
3. Gen 1-11: Background, Context, and Theology
4. An Incarnational Approach to Scripture

C) Theological and Moral Implications

The perceived implications of biological evolution seem daunting, both for Christian theology and for Christian morality. Although biological evolution does present some new challenges to theology, the extent of these challenges is clearly overblown.

1. Theological Implications of an Evolving Creation: 5 Common Faithstoppers
2. Made in the God's Image or Evolved from Apes?
3. Reconciling the Fall and Evolution
4. Does Evolution Lead to Moral Relativism?
5. Critiquing the claim that Darwinism = Racism

D) Personal Choices and Implications

Given the antagonism towards evolution within the Evangelical community, the personal choices regarding evolution can be difficult and the personal implications significant.

1. Factors Involved in the Shift Towards Evolutionary Creationism: My Story and Yours
2. When Acceptance of Evolution has Personal or Professional Repercussions
3. Would your Church allow you to Publically Support Evolution?
4. Reclaiming and Proclaiming Creation

Thursday, 1 November 2007

New Essay on Young Earth Creationism

I have previously recommended Robert Schneider’s exceptional Science and Faith essays on my brief Internet Resources page (which I acknowledge is desperately in need of an update). Schneider has now added to the series with his 8th essay entitled “Young Earth Creationism”. He provides an brief history of the movement, describes its characteristics, and offers a critique of its cultural assumptions, scientific practices, interpretation of scripture, and theology.

He then concludes with wise words on how those of us that support both the integrity of scripture and science should approach YECs:

[It] is critical for Christians like us to enter into conversation with YECs. But it must be respectful. I do not think that trading scientific arguments serves any useful purpose. There is a greater place on which to stand -- on the common ground of the Bible itself. We can help YECs, especially the youth among them, realize that there are other interpretations of the Scriptures that preserve their rightful role as messengers of revelation without cramming into them scientific concepts that they never were meant to contain. We can help them to see that modern science and the Bible are not in conflict with one another, but complement one another, that there is no contradiction between the creating Word revealed by the Rock of Ages and the record of an ancient earth revealed in the ages of rocks.
For those who want to do in depth historical research on the YEC movement, Ronald Number’s “The Creationists” will need to be consulted. For the majority though, Schneider's essay is the place to start. Excellent paper Robert.

Just Passing on a Meme

Right. I give Stephen Matheson the coveted PEDEBA award for October, and what do I get in return? An infection. Stephen has tagged me with an evolving blog meme. Go to Pharyngula for an overview of this meme's origin. The rules are as follows:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
  • You can leave them exactly as is.
  • You can delete any one question.
  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
  • You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions. Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My Ancestors:

My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite
My great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock
My great-grandparent is The Anterior Commissure
My grandparent is Laelaps
My parent is Quintessence of Dust

My Questions (and Answers):

  1. The best scary movie in sociopolitical dystopias is: Children of Men
  2. The best sexy song in pop rock is: “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” by the Barenaked Ladies covering Bruce Cockburn
  3. The best classical story in Historical Fiction is: “I, Claudius” by Robert Graves
  4. The best book appealing to both children and adults in Science Fiction is: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

(Ok, I think I bent the rules a bit).

The Ongoing Infection:

The intent of my blog was to interact with other evangelicals grappling with the evolution / faith issue. This has been rewarding. However, it has also been stimulating interacting with those who may not share my evangelical perspective. So in the spirit of sharing, I’m passing on this infection to 4 of these bloggers, bloggers who range from "I might be an Evangelical depending on your definition" to "I am definitely not an Evangelical":

  1. James at Exploring our Matrix
  2. Stephen at Emerging from Babel
  3. Martin at Sun and Shield
  4. Henry at Threads from Henry’s Web