As far as Whatever is concerned, 2005 is a done deal; I’m spending the rest of the year with family, offline. See you all in 2006. May the planets align to make the new year be the year you hope it will be.
In addition to the recliners, another thing we got ourselves this holiday season is a new mattress, to replace the one we currently have. It arrives in about a week. The one we’re getting is apparently made of space age miracle fibers or something, and it’s arguably the most expensive thing we’ve bought that we can’t live in, drive in or attach to a network. So we’ve informed Athena that once it arrives, the days of jumping on the bed are over. But the good news is, until it arrives, she can jump on the bed just as much as she wants.
She didn’t have to be told twice.
A second bookstore sighting of the trade paperback of Old Man’s War, taken on the 26th (i.e., the day before the official release) by my pal Emily, who now gets the official signed chapbook reward. Good on ya, Emily! Incidentally, now that the OMW trade paperback is officially out, the “spot it in the stores” contest is done, although if you still want to send me sightings, I don’t mind; I like seeing the book out in the world. Just, you know, don’t go out of your way to do it.
A few people have asked me what I think about the Amazon’s new “author blogs” initiative, in which the online bookseller gives book authors a little space to blather on about life, the universe and everything. This should answer that question. I don’t have much intention of actively posting at the Amazon site, but as a way of letting people there find their way here, I’m all for it. And for those authors who don’t already have active sites and/or blogs, I imagine it can be a useful way to get their faces out there.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t see the potential for drawbacks. For one thing, I can see how other booksellers, online and off, might be non-plussed to see authors merrily blogging away on a competitor’s site. For another thing, the clock is now ticking on the first author to use their Amazon Blog to flame someone who posted a negative Amazon review; this is one of those “not if but when” things, because I can’t imagine a universe in which it doesn’t happen sooner than later, particularly if the author in question is relatively new to the world of online communication and hasn’t had his or her ego tempered in the fires of an online flame war. It should be interesting, at the very least.
If an author were to ask me whether they should develop their own site or just use the Amazon site, I would tell them that overall it’s better to develop their own site — there’s more control in presentation and it avoids any potential conflicts with other booksellers, and there are any number of blog solutions that are dead easy to use (LiveJournal, Blogger and (of course) AOL Journals being the prime examples). But I also think by and large any online presence is better than none, so if authors don’t want to bother with the time and effort it takes to create a site or learn how to use the freestanding blogging solutions, an Amazon blog is better than nothing. Just watch out about responding to negative Amazon reviews. On that path lies madness.
For Christmas, Krissy got us his and her matching recliners, which have just been delivered, and as you may see here are sufficiently wide for our inevitiable capitulation to the middle-aged flabination (actually it’s not inevitable, but it’s nice to be prepared). And they match, in a color that is somewhere between maroon and burgundy (maroongundy? Burgoon?).
Add these new chairs to our daughter’s previously-purchased tyke-sized recliner, and you’ve got a family waist-high in repose. Now we may all enjoy recumbent big-screen TV pleasure! All we have left to to do is to construct the conveyor belt from the pantry and fridge, and we’ll be set. Let the flabination commence!
You know what? I was thinking about writing about my favorite album of the last year when I discovered it was actually released in 2004. Naturally I find this lapse terrifying coming from someone who until recently reviewed music as part of his income stream. It may also be indicative of 2005 being a suck-ass year for music. Who can say?
Well, you can say, if you want: Suggest me some of your favorite music from 2005 so that I can catch up with what the hip kids (that would be you) are listening to. If it ends up with me slappin’ down a Hamilton or two to get me some albums off of iTunes, I’ll consider it a moral victory.
Bear in mind that this doesn’t I haven’t been listening to new music is 2005; I have. I’ve just not been knocked out by it. With the exception of the new Garbage album, all the albums released in 2005 from bands I like have not been exactly overwhelming, or better than the album of theirs previous to this new one. I guess I want people to point me to an album that suggests that musicians weren’t just farting about in 2005.
So, what have you got for me?
Via Instapundit: The Chicago Tribune takes a look at the Bush Administration’s rationales for war and whether those rationales had merit (registration required). It’s a mixed decision, from the point of view of the Trib: The administration pushed its weakest argument (the weapons of mass destruction) and didn’t properly promote its strongest arguments (that Saddam was way past his expiration date). Allow me to say this doesn’t surprise me in the least, as the reason I was not opposed to going into Iraq was that I thought Saddam should have been gotten rid of long before.
One of the Trib’s aims with the editorial is to debunk the idea that the Bush folks lied to get us into the war: “After reassessing the administration’s nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege.” Needless to say, this is a conclusion quite a few people will have difficulty accepting, so I expect you’ll be able to see vehement refutations of this conclusion fairly quickly. Personally, as regards the WMDs, I’m not entirely sure how the government’s creative interpretation of its data is substantially different from misleading others, but if one wants to stipulate that people of genuine intelligence could have reasonably interpreted the data in a number ways, including that it indicated that Iraq had acquired WMDs, that’s fine with me, with the caveat that we should all agree that once the Bush folks had an interpretation that fit what they wanted to hear they didn’t exactly go out of their way to equally weigh other interpretations.
Which bring us to the thing the Tribune editorial doesn’t say, but which is entirely relevant, which is that Bush and his people wanted a war with Iraq, and were looking for a minimally-supportable excuse to have it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Bush came into office with invading Iraq on his “to do” list — that seems unlikely to me — but once 9/11 happened, the opportunity presented itself, and the Bush folks took advantage of it, and didn’t particularly care whether they have done due diligence on the rationales presented therein. Naturally, this negelect allows interested parties to claim the Bush folks acted in bad faith getting us into this particular war.
To be entirely honest, at this point in time, I’m rather less concerned with how this administration has sold this war than what it has done since driving Saddam out of power. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone who supported the war (or at the very least, did not oppose it, as in my case) to criticize how the Bush folks have handled the follow-on to the Iraq invasion. I’ve said before and will be pleased to say again that should I ever meet President Bush, I will be happy to tell him that deposing Saddam was a good thing. Unfortunately for our President, he will then have to hear me say that just about everything he’s done since then has been a total botch and that I’m appalled that he and his people apparently gave no thought to the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq beyond scooping up flowers thrown by grateful Iraqis. Yeah, it’ll be a mixed moment for Mr. Bush.
Here we are in the becalmed Saragasso seas of the final week of the year, and I’m thinking about what I’ll be doing in 2006.
Just as 2005 was significant for me in that it was the year I checked off the last thing on my adolescent “to do” list for my life, 2006 promises to be significant in that it’ll be the first year (so far as I can tell from this end) that the majority of my income will come from, and the majority of my work time will be devoted to, writing books. Here are the books on my slate for 2006:
1. The Last Colony: The third (and for now, final) book in the Old Man’s War series. I’ll be spending some of January doing some research on that and will start writing in February for a June deadline. TLC is tentatively slated for a May/June 2007 release.
2. Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: Selected Writings 1998-2005: This is the book of Whatevers that Subterranean will be publishing. Clearly most of the writing for this is done, although I’ll be writing a book introduction and chapter introductions as well. This is slated for June/July of this year.
3. Book One of the Two-Book Project I’m Currently Secretive About: I’ll start this one after I finish TLC and God willing, it’ll be done about this time next year. No release date set for this one yet but it’ll probably surface sometime late 2007/early 2008.
4. The Rough Guide to the Universe, 2nd Edition: As with Hate Mail, the writing here is already largely done, but several chapters will get a touch-up, particularly the ones on Mars and Saturn, about which we’ve learned quite a substantial bit more than what we knew when the first edition came out. I believe the second edition will be out in late 2006, just in time for holiday shopping.
I have a couple other book ideas I have rolling about in my head, but you know what? I think I’ll hold on to those for 2007. Four book projects are enough for now, and at least one of them is going to be a significant challenge to my writing skill (that’d be the BOotTBPICSA). I do already have one book project slated for 2007 (the second book of the TBPICSA), and it’s kind of a wacky thought to consider that I am (pun intended) booked up for at least the next sixteen months, and that — counting paperback iterations — books of mine will likely be coming out through 2009. I mean, damn.
I am pleased but strangely ambivalent about the idea that writing books will be my primary income source in 2006; pleased because nothing makes you feel like a writer like writing books for a living, ambivalent because I have no expectation that this state of affairs will last, and I don’t want to be bummed out if in 2007 (or 2008, or whenever) most of my income once again comes from sources other than book writing. This is one of those times where I intentionally keep myself from thinking too much and focus on enjoying how things turn out.
Non-book-related income-bearing projects at the moment are largely confined to what I already have going: My DVD columns for Official PlayStation Magazine and the Dayton Daily News, and the AOL Journals gig, for which I recently received a contract extension through March. I’m particularly pleased about that; AOL Journals went through some growing pains this last year, so I’m looking forward to more community building over there. I’m very attached to the AOL Journalers, you know, and I enjoy doing the By the Way because it’s so different in tone and substance to what I do here. I expect I may also do a bit with the Uncle John’s folks again, and I’ve let my business writing contacts know I’m available for spot work, but in both cases things have been quiet for a bit. While I enjoy doing both, I don’t mind taking a break to work on the novels.
Non(-directly)-income related writing projects in 2006: Well, there’s the Whatever, of course. It also looks as if I’ll be doing at least a few short stories; I have these listed under “non-income” not because I won’t make money off them (I expect I will, and I’m not in the habit of giving away writing for free) but because making money from them is not a primary consideration. My primary consideration at this point is to get comfortable with the form and see where it takes me. That should be fun.
Bear in mind that all of this can and probably will change, because I have yet to have a year that went anything like I expected it to. But it’s good to at least have a plan so that when you veer wildly off it, you’ll know. This is my plan for 2006, and at the moment, it seems like a pretty good one.
A reminder to those of you who do pick up the trade edition: Don’t read the excerpt of The Ghost Brigades in the back; it spoils a fairly minor but still nifty plot point that I think you’d rather not have spoiled for yourself. I mean, read it if you want. It’s your life. I’m just sayin’, is all.
I did a small bit of fiddling with the Whatever design. Comments, etc can be left here.
Also, and unrelated: A review of The Ghost Brigades here. The review is generally positive and calls the book “a pageturner with surprising emotional rewards”, although the reviewer is a little annoyed that I drop in a bunch of cool ideas and then just keep chugging along without going into great detail about them. This is a not invalid criticism, although I suppose I’d rather have too many ideas in a book than too few. In any event, the reviewer’s hope that I’ll do more books in the universe will be fulfilled, for at least one more book.
Come see Christmas at the Scalzi household. Actually most of the pictures are from Christmas Eve, but really. Like it matters.
Athena, with her new harmonica, performing her now classic “I Got Dem ‘I Unwrapped All My Presents And Now I Got Nothin’ Left to Unwrap’ Blues Again, Mama!” Truly, a lament many children can get behind, right about now.
We have the first spotting of the trade paperback of Old Man’s War, in the Elk Grove, California Borders. Jeff Callahan here wins a copy of a short story chapbook of mine, signed by me and Athena (although to be clear, I wrote the stories). Congratulations, Jeff! I have two more of these chapbooks to give away to others who find the book in the stores — although remember the Elk Grove Borders is now officially off the list of eligible places. And remember the book is officially released next Tuesday, just in time to take advantage of all those holiday gift certificates.
For those of you vaguely concerned that I will turn the Whatever into a 24/7 pimp zone for the trade paperback of Old Man’s War: I probably won’t. I figure most of you all know it’s out there. Full-scale pimpage won’t occur until February, which is when The Ghost Brigades hits the stores. See? I’m giving you plenty of time to run away.
Athena’s birthday today, followed by Christmas, followed by a week where I catch up on pay copy that I’ve promised people by the end of the year, equals a pretty good chance I’ll be scarce here through the end of the year. Of course I said that last year and then wrote two entries a day for the last week of the year. But, you know. Humor me.
Should I actually not post in any significant fashion through the end of the year, I bid you sustain yourself with this list of notable Whatever entries for 2005, arranged chronologically:
Athena’s First Story
Covenant Marriage is Stupid
The Problem With Parents
Laurence McMillin, 1923 – 2005
What Publishing Is
What My Jesus Would Do
Writing in the Age of Piracy
Revenge of the Sith: The Long Form Review
Oh My God! They Look Just Like Us!
Cracking the Flag-Burning Amendment
Things to Know About Clones
A Note on the Day of the Passing of Rosa Parks
The Document No One Knows About
The Editorial Process, Revealed, Kinda
How Not to Plagiarize
Standing Up for Dubya, Such As It Is
Christopher Robin is Out There in the Woods
Science Fiction Outreach
That should keep y’all busy.
If this is the last you see of me in 2005, have a festive seasonal celebration of your preference and a felicitous new year. And if I pop in again, well, actually, all that still stands. Because. You know. I’m not going to repeat myself.
Athena turns seven tomorrow, and to celebrate she’s dropping a little tunage on you: A mix of some of her favorite songs (~22 MB). Yes, she picked all the songs herself, and yes, we let her listen to music that has the occasional bad word in it. She’s smart enough not to sing those particular words to herself. In any event, I think most of you will appreciate her eclectic tastes. Enjoy!
In the grand historical scheme of things, 2005 largely sucked, but personally it was a very fine year indeed. I hope the two are not related, since I want things to get better for everybody else, but I’d also, you know, like to keep on doing what I’ve got going. I suppose if there were some sort of verifiable inverse relationship, I could take a hit for the team, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
In many ways 2005 also represents the closing of one significant chapter of my life. When one is young, one keeps a list of all the things one wants to do with one’s life, and I’m no different in that regard. This year, I published a novel — two, actually — and edited a magazine, and in doing so, I checked off the last major experiential goals of my youth (other ones included, in no particular order, being a newspaper columnist, getting married, being a father, writing an astronomy book, and being a fill-time writer). No matter what else happens in my life from this point on, I can say definitively that I got to be what I wanted to be when I grew up. I am naturally happily gobsmacked at the fact.
This does naturally lead to the question, “well, if you’ve done everything you wanted to do when you were a kid, why don’t you just shove off?” (Well, maybe it doesn’t naturally lead to this question, unless you’re morbid. But what can I say. Hi.) The short answer to this is that, yes, I’ve achieved the goals that I set out for myself as a kid, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have other goals, formulated as I’ve gotten older and I’ve seen what opportunities, desires and challenges lay before me. That said, allow me to enumerate some additional life goals that I have presently, which remain unfulfilled at the moment. In no particular order:
* I want to create a solid body of fiction. Which is to say, good reads that draw people in and make them look forward to whatever I make up next. This is separate from a best-selling body of fiction or even a significant body of fiction — in both of those cases it’s not entirely up to me. What is within my power is to write fiction that is worthy of being read, by the relevant metric of being work I’d want to read. What would I define as a “solid body”? I think 20 novels would be a fair start. I mean, right now I’ve written four and I’m contracted for three more. Unless I’m hit by a bus, 20 novels seems doable.
* I want to evangelize science. I firmly believe that 80% of all science is understandable to anyone who can walk upright — it’s just a matter of presenting the information in a way they want to read it or experience it. Writing my astronomy book was a life goal, but I’ll tell you what was a real eye-opener: Writing pieces for Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges Into the Universe. I wrote about a third of that book, with short little pieces on everything from types of clouds to the evolution of the eye to the signs of the zodiac, and I wrote them in a fun and entertaining way, and I had a ball doing it. And you know what? From what I understand, the book sold more than 100,000 copies — that’s 100,000 people (at least) who now know a little bit more about science thanks to a non-intimidating, humorous format. Perhaps it’s not dignified for people to be learning about science while they’re pinching one off, but look around us today and tell me people shouldn’t be learning about science by any means necessary.
I’m not a scientist, but I understand quite a great deal of science — and more importantly, I can explain it well to people who have no real experience with it. Out of anything I do, I would consider this a calling, a thing I do out of a personal moral imperative… and also because I simply love the ideas of science and want to try to make other people love them too. It is a joy to share ways to understand the universe. Writing is the obvious way to share, but I’ll do it however I can.
* I want to help my daughter become a good human. Because its what parents are supposed to do, and in helping her become a good person, I will hopefully become as good a person as I hope I am helping her to become. Raising a child, in my experience, makes you want to be a better person, for the sake of your child and for your own sake as well.
* I want a species named after me. Because, how cool would that be? Any species in any kingdom would be fine. I’m not picky. This is the only life goal I have that is entirely out of my control, unless I hack my way into the Amazon and find a frog species no one’s bothered to classify before, and, well. I’m not likely to do that. So all you biologists out there: Help a guy out, here. First biologist to get a species officially named for me gets a book dedication. See: I get something, you get something.
* I want to stay married, and happily so. Takes work. It’s worth it.
* I would like to teach writing in a formal setting (which is to say, at a college). I think this may actually be the most difficult goal, not because of the task of teaching itself (which is formidible enough, to be sure), but because no matter how many books I publish, I have only a bachelor’s degree, and the idea of going back to school at this point to get a master’s degree that I don’t particularly want or feel that I need seems pointless and stupid, and a PhD. even more so. This is not to say you MFAs and creative writing PhDs have wasted your youth and vigor. Just that it’s not for me. I’m more inclined to slap down the four novels I’ve written and sold so far, and maybe toss in my astronomy and SF film book, and suggest they indicate a decent mastery of that whole writing thing. Call me a practical experience snob if you will.
* Related to the goal above, I want to write a book on writing. I’ve been writing professionally for 15 years, I’ve been making a very comfortable freelance living from it for several years, and with the exception of screenplays, I’ve written and sold pretty much every possible form of writing there is to make money off of. I feel sufficiently competent in both the craft and business of writing, in other words, to bore people about it in book form. I’ve been talking with my non-fiction agent about this, off and on, since about 2002.
The major issue with this goal is that it’s not as if there aren’t already books on the subject, ranging from the practical Writer’s Digest “how to sell your manuscript” connect-the-dotters to things like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which many people love but which I found a bit twee (I was more engaged by Stephen King’s On Writing, but I suppose this should not be surprising). If I’m going to write a book on this subject, it damn well better not be the same crappity crap everyone else has to say on the subject, or at the very least, it should be the same crappity crap done up in a way that’s not already tiresome the moment one cracks the cover. If I’m going to try to compete with Stephen King on the same ground, I’m going to get squashed, and rightly so. I mean — hey — I would read King’s book on writing before I’d read my own. So I want to find the right way to do it that’s going to be new and useful to the people who read it. Writing about writing is already like admitting you’re masturbating; putting it into book form means you’re admitting you’re an exhibitionist, too. So you might as well give your audience a good show, one that leaves them shaking their heads in wonder and saying “Wow, I didn’t know you could do it that way.” That’s my goal. Bring a poncho.
* I want to visit New Zealand. Why New Zealand? Dunno. Just always wanted to go. Yes, even before Lord of the Rings. I’m not that shallow.
So those are the unrealized life goals at the moment — some of them, anyway; there may be others I’m not telling you about, or still thinking about whether to punt them into “life goal” status. How long will I work toward these goals? Well, it took 36 years to realize the first set of life goals; I guess if I have all of these addressed by the time I’m 72 I’ll be doing just fine. As you can see, I’m not in a huge rush. That’s why they’re life goals.
Regardless of any possible Agent purchase, I do hope that you’ll check out Child’s Play when you’re considering your end-of-the-year charitable giving. The Penny Arcade guys have done a truly amazing job with this charity over the three years they have run it: All the contributions go directly to the hospitals they sponsor; PA charges no administrative fees whatsoever. This year alone they’ve raised a jaw-dropping $420,000 from Penny Arcade readers, game companies and others who see the value in making a kid’s stay in a hospital a little more tolerable with a game or toy. Even before I kicked in the $97, I had gone in and made a contribution: I picked a hospital (the charity sponsors hospitals in the US, Canada and the UK), went to its Amazon wish list, and picked out some toys. The wish lists have requests for toys and books that only cost a few dollars, so there’s almost always something that’s in the price range for anyone who wants to contribute. So I hope you’ll go over and consider a contribution.
Once again: Thank you to everyone who bought Agent from the Subterranean Press site. You did good.
From a commenter named Greg:
My only comment would be that you tend to wear out certain topics…By now, we all know how you feel about Bush (utter contempt!), the Patriot Act (hate it!), Intelligent Design (hate it, too!) and gay marriage (love it!)
These predictable topics give you the ability to post the kind of opinions that your predominantly liberal audience loves to hear. They are red meat for the following you have built up in recent years.
I would be curious to see your take on some more diverse topics…Take religious extremism, for example: not Christian, but Islamic. Why aren’t you more concerned about Iran’s president, who is now banning Western music, and claiming that the Holocaust never happened?
To address the first two paragraphs first, I couldn’t possibly care what people are tired of me writing about here, or (alternately) whether what I write about here serves to sate the liberal needs of my audience, because I don’t get paid here and I don’t write here for anyone else but me. This is a free buffet, people: Eat as much as you like, but what you eat is what I choose to serve up. If you don’t like the menu, either wait until I get bored with a subject and write about something else, or just move on. The basic philosophy of the site is the same now as when I started: I write whatever I feel like writing. It’s right there in the title.
Having said that, if you are bored with me yammering on about Bush or gay marriage or writing or anything else I yammer on about on a regular basis, well, I do take requests. I do this formally during the Reader Request Weeks I’ve been doing annually for the last few years, but there’s nothing stopping you from asking my opinion about any particular subject at any particular time. Heck, I like taking reader requests because then I don’t have to spend much time wracking my brain wondering what the hell I’m going to write about today. Now ,you run the risk of me opining on something I don’t know jack about, but per the site disclaimer, I’m not going to let a little thing like complete ignorance stop me. And besides, me making an ass of myself makes for a lively comment thread. And isn’t that what everyone wants?
So, please: If you ever find yourself saying, “Christ almighty, I wish Scalzi would yabber on about something else already,” now you know what to do: send in a request. E-mail is best, but you can drop it in a comment thread if you like. Don’t be shy.
Now, as to religious extremism: Generally speaking, I think it’s no good, no matter which iteration of God one is being extreme about. As to why I’m not concerned about Iran: Who says I’m not? Is concern not a responsible position to take when a nuke-acquisitive country is being led by a Jew-hating Holocaust denier? And I think that Ahmadinejad’s cute little game provoke-and-deny is profoundly obnoxious; really, when one is walking about saying Israel should be wiped off the map, or that the Holocaust didn’t exist, it’s not exactly credible to goofily backtrack a day later and play some variation of the “it was taken out of context” card, especially when you’re back at it a few days later.
I have some suspicions that some of this is a ploy of some sort, a variation of the North Korean gambit in which one acts insane in the hope of extracting placating foreign aid of some type (in this case, involving nuclear power). Unfortunately for Iran, their variation of the North Korean gambit involves poking Israel with a sharp stick, and there’s only so long Iran will get away with that before Israel takes that stick and jams it hard right back into Iran’s eye. Israelis are prepared for the moment to let diplomacy do its thing, but if you don’t think they don’t already know how they’re going to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I suspect you’d be wrong on that.
Personally, I’m also inclined to see where diplomacy leads us, but then again if one day I woke up to find Israel had launched a multipronged air attack on Iran, I would be neither surprised nor unsupportive of such an action. Israel is a small, tough, paranoid guy in a bad neighborhood, and you don’t mess with small, tough paranoid guys without expecting to pay for it. It’s a measure of my confidence in Israel that I’m not as concerned with Iran as I perhaps should be. I expect that if things get to a certain point, it’s going to be Israel who takes the initiative, not anyone else, and certainly not the US. The military has enough going on as it is, and I don’t think that even Bush can make an argument for us opening up a third front in the Middle East.
Whether any of these assumptions have any relation to reality is another subject entirely. I welcome corrections to my worldview, and also, more requests of entry topics.
“Intelligent Design” officially gets the boot in Dover, Pennsylvania. There are some choice quotes in the story from the judge who made the ruling. I think this is my favorite: “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.” So not only is ID utterly full of crap, it was defended by utter incompetents. Which was, of course, the defense it deserved.
Someone please pass the note to Kansas, okay? Thanks.
Here! Read the ruling!
Oh, wait, this is my new favorite quote:
“Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.”