Why Do They Call Evil That Which Is Good?

Chris Mooney says in his article ‘Science Deniers Are Freaking Out About “Cosmos”’

Indeed, the science denial crowd hasn’t been happy with Cosmos in general. Here are some principal lines of attack:

  • Denying the Big Bang
  • Denying evolution
  • Denying climate change

Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, podcaster, and the host of MJ’s Climate Desk Live. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science. You can read the rest at Bill Moyer’s site and Mother Jones, if you like this sort of thing.

Michael Brendan Dougherty, a more subtle critic, says in his article: ‘In Defense of Creationists – Sure, they’re misreading Genesis. But for all the right reasons.’

My own view is that a literal one-week creation should be ruled out because, combined with the best knowledge we have of science, it would make God into a devil, a trickster. “Haha, mortals, I only buried these dinosaur bones and set the galaxies in explosive motion so the unbelievers would damn themselves to Hell,” doesn’t sound like a great or loving God. It seems to me that the very idea of good, eternal, law-giving God endowing man with rational abilities was the historical prerequisite for scientific exploration.

Michael Brendan Dougherty is senior correspondent at TheWeek.com. He is the founder and editor of The Slurve, a newsletter about baseball. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Slate and The American Conservative. You can read the rest of this article at The Week.

In the act of creation, God demonstrated overwhelming creative power throughout time and space (and whatever else there might be that we have yet to discover). We reviewed this concept in-depth in our post ‘Every Good Story – Thysdor Ya’Rosel’ and more succinctly in ‘All the world’s a stage…

So far as misreading Genesis, we covered that issue in the recent post ‘Nip ‘Em in the Bud.’

We live in a universe governed by laws which the Law Giver can suspend as it suits His good pleasure. We’ve covered this concept in another recent post ‘Instrumentality.’

For those of us old enough to remember, both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits television series’ had episodes where that which existed had no reality behind it. How creepy would it be to dig into the ground and find nothing (i.e. no precious metals and gems, petrochemicals, fossils, etc.)?

To this point, the scriptures describe treasures in the sand and deep beneath the ground. As described in Scripture, the world is meant to communicate two major lessons concerning God:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Romans 1:20 English Standard Version (ESV)

On the fossils front, death certainly entered creation when the Lord God made garments of skins to clothe Adam and Eve after their fall from grace.  We also read that the creation was subjected to futility by God because of Adam’s sin. So, we can say with confidence that sin had far-reaching consequences for creation!

It’s helpful to see the Scriptures as an accommodation to us by an infinite and unknowable God. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ is described as the image of the invisible God and declares Himself of one essence with the Father. He appeared to us in human form to identify with us more fully than we sometimes appreciate.

The Lord Jesus Christ taught often through parables:

A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.

When asked, the Lord Jesus Christ explained to His followers why He spoke in parables:

This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Matthew 13:13 (ESV)

He spoke this to remind His followers of Isaiah’s prophecy:

And He said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10 (ESV)

Again, reiterating today’s opening statements, isn’t He evil for not revealing all? In the parable about Lazarus and the rich man, concerning warnings about the place of eternal torment:

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:31 (ESV)

Ultimately, it comes down to believing, or not, the documentary evidence that we have in Scripture. We’ve addressed the authority and basic meaning of Scripture in our posts: ‘Authority of Scripture?’ and ‘Scripture – What Is It Good For?,’ respectively.

So, we stand condemned unless He saves us and, otherwise, we remain dead in our sins and trespasses. God, through the apostle, speaks of His sovereignty in these matters:

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20 (ESV)

We may take offence to this statement. But, we’ve conveniently forgotten what preceded this passage:

…For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 (ESV)

The onus for sin lies with us. We’ve examined our responsibility in the post titled: ‘There, But for God’s Grace and Mercy Through His Providence, Go I.’

Why one side insists on winning a war started before the First World War, I understand. Loosely paraphrasing Huxley, they believe what they want because they have an agenda that doesn’t include the One that made them. We’ve covered Aldous Huxley’s admission in our posts ‘Wonder Why?’ and ‘Mean Ends – Luxe Hso-Dualy.’

But I grow tired of their fight as this life winds down. These recurrent attacks endanger the liberty we all claim to cherish. You can keep your slapshots to yourselves. We’ve already addressed this latest controversy in our post: ‘Climate Changiness.’

Now, we’ve discussed how it’s our duty to live peaceful and quiet lives. The Scriptures say we will be persecuted as He was. However, dear folks of the opposition, your war is with Him. And you will inevitably appear before Him, so, please live peacefully while He gives you opportunity to repent.

Politicization of science by the right or the left is futile. Finally, it comes down to what the Lord Jesus Christ said to His critics:

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? Mark 12:24 (ESV)

I urge you, turn and be healed.

The Garden of Eden, Thomas Cole

The Garden of Eden, 1828, Thomas Cole (1801–1848), public domain – US

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell – A Review

James Scott Bell gives us the elements of compelling storytelling in his book Plot and Structure. His introduction motivates the reasons for good storytelling and encourages a lifelong process.

Chapter one covers what a plot is, the types of plots, the distinction between literary and commercial plots, and an argument for formulaic writing that produces excitement. He says, quoting the dictionary: “Plot – a plan as for designing a building or a novel.” The function of the plot is to connect with readers though the story. Story is what sells books to readers. Plot and structure help you tell the story. Quoting Hitchcock: “a good story is life, with the dull parts taken out.”

Bell advocates what he terms the LOCK system. The Lead is vibrant and compelling, someone to watch throughout the novel. The Objective is something which the Lead wants to get or get away from. Solid novels have one dominant Objective. Whether the Lead achieves the Objective is crucial to their wellbeing and is the “story question,” the driving force of the novel. Opposition characters and forces Confront the Lead to thwart them from the Objective. Confrontation provides the reader with emotional involvement in the story. Finally, the novel’s ending should be a Knockout. It should satisfy the reader and keep them coming back for more.

Chapter two covers the structure that holds a plot together. If plot is about the elements of a story, structure is about the timing of those elements. Story structure has beginnings, middles, and ends; three acts. The beginning is about the Lead, the entry point for the reader. It also presents the story world, establishes the tone (epic or farce? action or character progression? fast or slow?), compels the reader to move on to the middle, and introduces the opposition.

Middles are for confrontation where physical, professional, or psychological death hangs over the Lead. This is the place where subplots blossom. It creates a sense of inevitability by weaving plot strands in and out of each other and continuously surprising the reader. The middle also: deepens character relationships, keeps us caring about what happens, and sets up the final Knockout confrontation and resolution at the end. Ends tie up all significant, unresolved plot strands and provide the reader with a feeling of resonance. ‘Resonance’ is something beyond the confines of the book (i.e., its meaning in the larger sense).

Finally, chapter two broaches the concept of the disturbance and two doorways. The disturbance is anything that disturbs the lead’s ordinary life. It is the first threat or challenge to the status quo. However, the lead can still return to normal life. That’s where the first ‘doorway of no return’ comes in. This doorway sends the Lead irrevocably into the confrontations of the second act. The second doorway leads to the knockout ending that achieves resolution and resonance.

Chapter three covers methods for creating plot ideas. Chapters four through six dive into beginnings, middles, and ends.

Chapter seven describes the elements of scenes. Scenes typically take place in one location and time frame. They consist of action, reaction, setup, and deepening. These four chords can dominate the scene or compose portions of a scene called beats. Action and reaction naturally follow each other. Setup creates the circumstances and/or conditions for later scenes. Deepening enriches the reader’s understanding of a character or setting.

Scenes must have a Hook, Intensity, and Prompt (HIP). The Hook grabs the reader at the outset of the scene. Dialog, teaser, or action are good hooks into a scene. Description that is brief and sets a mood can also be a hook. Intensity is a building sense that more is at risk, could be lost, or found out. The writer creates this tension through conflict. The conflict can be stretched for all it’s worth by the interplay between action, dialogue, thoughts, and description. Scenes end with Prompts to read on. Prompts can consist of: impending disaster, portent, mysterious line of dialog, a suddenly revealed secret, a major decision or vow, announcement of a shattering event, a reversal or surprise, or a question left hanging.

Chapter eight discusses complex plots that interweave several subplots with the main plot. A subplot can be thematic, dealing with something the Lead needs to learn, which deepens the plot, lends meaning, and is a place to make a statement about life. Characters carry your themes. Each subplot follows the LOCK method. The subplots can be serial or parallel and each must work on their own.

The next seven chapters dive into the finer points presented in the first eight. This is not so say that you can skip the later chapters. Important principles and techniques are revealed in them. Two appendices summarize the book at a high level and describe how to create back cover material (or a blurb) for your book.

Bell uses movies and well known books to illustrate plot and structure techniques rather than esoteric (to me) literary references. His goal is to teach effectively and not to show how well read he is (and, by implication, how the reader isn’t).

Although portions read like a pep talk, the folksy presentation is not long winded and usually has a point or serves as introduction. The book seems converted to eBook format in a somewhat haphazard way (section and subsection titles in perplexing font sizes, rote use of indent everywhere including bulleted lists, only a logical table of contents). This is likely the publishers doing given the economics involved.

However, weaknesses aside, I strongly recommend the content of James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure for new and struggling novelists who want  to sell books.