Friday, June 20, 2008

Portrait of the Writer as an Agnostic Prostitute

I'm excited to be a writer again. I say "again" because, even though I'm writing proposals all the time, it's rarely the kind of real insight-based writing that charges me up. So, that's what I'm doing, as a ghostwriter. And now that the first draft of the first half of the first chapter has been submitted for review, I'm feeling pretty good.

My task is actually quite daunting: I'm writing a book that gives the religious side of the science versus religion debate. This is, of course, a hot topic. The book's a critique of evolution and a defense of biblical claims for creation. Now, as I have shared, I am more fully engaged with Judaism than ever before in my life, on both and intellectual and personal devotional level. Yet I remain quite agnostic in many areas, the origin and development of life in the universe being two examples. This actually helps in the writing dynamic, in my opinion. I am not fully sympathetic to the author's positions, so I am working to make their best case. Part of the problem is the awful logic often employed by creationists and design proponents. It usually involves incredulity and reliance on very old objections against the materialist method.

I've always said it's possible to do anything as a writer, to make anything cohesive - here's my chance to put up or shut up. So far, I think I've made an excellent case. I attack science for behaving in violation to its stated principles. I point out some selective criticism their arguments employ, I emphasize the reasonableness and sophistication of religious rationalism, I stress the difference of course that the book will take (how it knows the usual rhetorical ploys anti-evolutionists us and tries either to improve them or avoid them), and I claim the weakness of evolutionary theory. This last point, if I can make it convincingly, will be a towering achievement, because quite honestly I have not really seen a credible case against evolution. But I am going to rip out its heart by slashing into its textual edifice. When I'm done, it's "our discourse is truth" myth will be, if not shattered, then on equal footing with that of religious discourse. My target is its determination of facts: take out that which makes facts factual and the whole wall comes down. As I said, though, it's going to be tough to make this case really work and be convincing.

The author I work for has so far been difficult. He's always busy and hard to reach, and I don't think he does a great job of either reading/acknowledging the things I say (such as, yes, I HAVE started writing) or striving to understand the more abstract arguments I tend to make. I certainly do know that my tendency is to abstract thought and I always seek to ground things well, but I need the guy to push himself a bit too.

In the writing, I am finding a lot of passion and struggle in myself. It's good, I'm learning a lot and swaying between almost complete atheism and firm religious belief. It's interesting. There are just so many great perspectives available online. I am glad that I am able to be swayed. I am not an easy sway, but my openness is partly what makes it all work. Now, it could be that my author is not happy with what I have drafted. If that's the case, then we surely will not be able to work together. In just the first 4000 words, I have laid out some provocative themes. This book will be a sensation if the author doesn't try and neuter it. If he does, then I can still take solace in having learned something valuable about book writing.