Discussion Board

Topic: Science and Literature

From: Greg Baum
Location: Provo, UT
Date: 11/01/2006

Dear Mr. Bear,

My name is Greg Baum, and I'm studying comparative literature at Brigham Young University. One of my classes deals with the relationship between science and literature, and in that class we are reading your book Darwin's Radio. I was wondering what background you have in literature and science. Did you study one and have the other as a hobby? Or were they both part of your formal studies? Could you tell me a little about how your background with two seemingly different disciplines led you to writing? I'd appreciate any input you have, because I have a very limited background with science, and so I'm trying to bridge that gap. Your book is my first experience with "hard" sci-fi, and I really enjoy it. Thanks again.

Greg Baum

Re: Science and Literature

From: Greg Bear
Date: 11/02/2006

Good to hear from you, Greg! I'm mostly self-educated in science, though I did take a science minor with my bachelor degree in English. For me, science is more than a hobby--it's a passion. Discovery--vicariously, more often than not, by reading the research done by working scientists--is part of my everyday life. And trying to bring together the humanities and the sciences--to make them part of the full spectrum of human activities--is a substantial part of my mission.

Re: Science and Literature

From: Zach
Location: Provo, UT
Date: 11/03/2006

Aside from science articles, do you induldge in philosophy of science like Thomas Kuhn. I noticed several changing paradoxes in Darwins Radio, so I was wondering how much philosophy you incorporated. Along the same lines, was the Stella Nova idea partly inspired by the christian shift in religion? You do mention immaculate conception and a million baby Jesuses, so it seemed like you had a religious paradox shift in mind as well as scientific.

Re: Science and Literature

From: Greg Bear
Date: 11/03/2006

Actually, I got "immaculate conception" wrong, and should have called it "virgin birth," which is also not quite appropriate from a Christian perspective. Immaculate conception refers to Mary being born without original sin. And none of my SHEVA moms are virgins! So--secondary conception without an additional sexual act? Tough to label in religious terms...

But to get to your real point, I have no doubt that an event like a new species--a new type of human--would cause real shock waves in any society, religious or not. We have to create new metaphors and new myths when we face such challenges--or modify our older myths. (I'm one of those people who do not consider the word "myth" a pejorative--using the wider, anthropological definition made popular most recently by Joseph Campbell.)

Re: Science and Literature

From: Patrick McGinley
Location: Pismo Beach, Calif.
Date: 04/30/2007

I am a longtime fan and have just finished "Quantico."
Children are so utterly subordinate to and dependant upon their parents that they will love and revere a parent(s),
even if they are mistreated and abused.
That being said do you think it is wrong to teach
children religion before they have basic education? I guess I really mean religious indoctrination, either by a parent or another authority figure.
I once was smug and contemptuous towards the claims of religion but now I think it is dangerous in it's own right and not because it is used in conjunction with those seeking power. The Darwin books and Quantico seem to demonstrate this idea.

Re: Science and Literature

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/03/2007

Religion is a part of every culture. Intolerance and violence also exist among those who espouse no particular religion--witness Stalin and Hitler. To paraphrase--it isn't religion that kills, but zealots with an intolerant view of faith. One of the central messages in QUANTICO is that it isn't belief that leads to war and violence, it is the refusal to actually pay attention to the core values of most religions--that is, pride and hate overcome any willingness to actually "listen to God."

Re: Science and Literature

From: Patrick McGinley
Location: Pismo Beach, Calif.
Date: 05/08/2007

In regards to your point about listening to God I agree. But the powerful religions have sequestered God and even hold God hostage. I know that any and all dictionaries define God as separate and apart from institutional spirituality but those same institutions have muddied the distinction and present themselves as one and the same.
I am re-reading Sagan's "Contact." Dr. Arroway has the right idea of listening to God. She listens to music, of the spheres no less.

P.S. I hope we haven't heard the last of "Queen of Angels," Mary Chong.

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