Comments: 725 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

whosthereitsmatt99 karma

Why would you convert to Catholicism? Most of the people I know who were raised catholic (myself included) couldn’t wait to leave the church.

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

I could give you a long-winded answer, but the core of it is this: I came to believe that it was true. All of it.

BlameTheJunglerMore5 karma

All of it.

Even evolution?

Sensitive_Necessary77 karma

You are asking me my opinion? Yes, evolution is true.

Sterodactyl63 karma

I have never heard of you, and I am more of a fantasy than sci fi kind of reader - but, kudos for coming into hostile territory as a Catholic on Reddit (as a convert from Protestant background, I can appreciate your path).

Interested in reading. I didn’t see from the blurb when in the future this is set. What’s the time period? What gave you the idea for this book? Religion in sci fi is very Simmons and Wolfe, as you definitely know. Thanks in advance!

Sensitive_Necessary757 karma

It's set around 250 years in the future. A sectarian civil war in Nigeria has re-set the geopolitical table. There is a revived Holy Roman Empire that includes just a couple of Eastern European countries, most of Sub-Saharan Africa, S. America, and the Philippines.

There is also an Islamic caliphate streteching from Morocco to Pakistan.

The twist is that the Caliphate and the Holy Roman Empire are allies.

I LOVE both Simmons and Wolfe, along with Walter Miller, Frank Herbert, and Ursula LeGuin.

ThaddiusRiker6 karma

I’m sorry that it looks like children have come into your thread elsewhere to insult your beliefs rather than asking anything genuine or of substance. Your work looks interesting! I’d be interested in picking it up. Thanks for the answers.

krisdaschwab9128 karma

As an Agnostic with an interest in historical and/or -topia novels, I'm actually interested in the premise of the book that was outlined by the author. As someone who is tired of religion mixing with politics, I'm not particularly fond of the author's agenda.

Sensitive_Necessary74 karma

What do you think is my agenda?

I'm not a particularly political person, tbh. And I'm trying to be less so all the time.

ennuimachine2 karma

Do you touch on how the climate has changed in these places 250 years in the future? I imagine that many of these places will actually be uninhabitable by then unless we make some great leaps forward in climate mitigation strategy and technology. I feel like any speculative fiction taking place in a semi-near future needs to address this question somehow, even if it’s just in the background (I also personally find it very interesting)

Sensitive_Necessary72 karma

Yes. Bangladesh is completely wiped out. Florida is just a string of islands. Massive geoengineering projects have been undertaken, including a "fence" for thr Mediterranean, a land bridge connecting mainland China to Korea across thr Bohai sea, and a massive man made sea in Australia.

I actually have a map I hope to include in future editions.

GGJallDAY57 karma

Does your love for science ever conflict with your religion?

Sensitive_Necessary7105 karma

It used to, when I was younger and had a poorer understanding of both.

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is its total openness to scientific inquiry. There is no contradiction, for example, in being a faithful Catholic and believing in evolution or quantum theory or the big bang.

cabinfervor65 karma

This is a great answer that's totally in line with the Church teachings. The unfortunate fact is that reddit is a largely atheistic community and, to them, all Christianity equates to evangelical protestantism. So you're going to see that reflected in the questions and downvotes.

xxScienceLuvva69xx47 karma

Totally in line with the churches teachings but not with the science. Using evolution as an example Catholics say "god drives and directs evolution", but the actual science has found no evidence for a driving force behind evolution and plenty of evidence to attest the opposite, that evolution is an undriven process based on the selection of random mutations by purely natural environmental pressures.

Just because you can make a scientific theory fit with your religion by ignoring the details or interpreting your religious text as "metaphorical" when you find contradictions, does not mean that there is no conflict between the two.

ricepe17 karma

That's called god of the gaps and every catholic I've met offers that same argument. They also play a lot with intelligent design.

I was going to ask the author how he balances both world visions together... They're just incompatible.

For me the scientific method ended all possibility to ever think again about following a creed

Sensitive_Necessary79 karma

How does the scientific method, as you understand it, connect with ethical behavior?

ricepe11 karma

That's a great question indeed 👍🏼

First of all, I am not a philosopher or have anything to do with social sciences, so I might not be the best to answer this.

In any case, and without being an objectivist or joining the free will debate, I believe we as a species can rationally decide a universal set of moral rules for everyone to abide without the need of an outer god or tradition or influence.

Those principles have already been laid out, the UN human rights act might be the best candidate for that (and I'm a big supporter of that initiative)

Probably my set of arguments for establishing my values is rather thin, but it works for me: empathy, solidarity, ingenuity,... are some of our best traits and they can be rationally supported as a benefit for our specie. Although I lost my catholic beliefs 20 years ago in my teens I still think about moral issues and try to read a lot what others have said about the subject, with or without god. It's always going to be a work in progress, at least for me.

Thanks for giving myself the opportunity to review my ideas!

PD not a native English speaker 🙄

Sensitive_Necessary79 karma

Thanks for your comment!

This is a big and important debate, to be sure. And I'm not sure that I' qualified to represent one side or the other.

It seems to me, however, that what you are proposing is that we simply accept, by consensus, a set of values that are "beneficial." That is utilitarianism, if I am not mistaken (nttawtt).

There are problems with this approach. First, not everyone will agree on what those values should be. Almost any value, taken to its conclusion, will lead to an impingement on some individual's conception of "rights."

Second, these values would subject to radical change over time. Which means by definition that they cannot be true values. They look then more like conveniences or, in Turing's words, "a polite consensus."

Sweet_Baby_Cheezus46 karma

Hey Andrew, this is always something I have a hard time wrapping my little chestnut around. The church says that there's original sin but also that evolution is true. But that seems to be contradictory. How can there be original sin if Adam and Eve didn't choose to knowingly disobey God? Like did God guide evolution to a point, and then all of the very first homosapiens did something to give themselves a sin that was so evil it followed every human for the next 200,000 years?

Sensitive_Necessary712 karma

The original sin, as I understand it, was disobedience.

The specific consequence of that sin was knowledge of good and evil.

Knowledge of good and evil is not neutral or inert. Possession of it requires choice--the engagement of the will.

I don't believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis. But I think it is an excellent poetic/metaphorical treatment of what we would today call "the human condition," as described above.

w6equj54 karma

I find a contradiction between science and religion in the idea of humans being at the center of creation, at a higher importance than other living beings. Our understanding of nature seems to say, on the contrary, that we're nothing but a different branch of evolution.

How do you deal with that idea as a Christian?

Sensitive_Necessary712 karma

I'll freely admit that my personal practice of Catholicism tends more towards the mystical end of things. My favorite Catholic book, for example, is The Cloud of Unknowing. After that, probably any of the works by Henry Nouwen on God's mercy and love.

All of that to say, I don't believe that our faculty of reason is the only path to understanding. To borrow from the Sufi mystic ibn al Arabi, reason is "one eye." (Incidentally, ibn Arabi believed that the Arab philosophers of his time had erred in seeing the purpose of reason as being to understand reality. He thought the purpose of reason was to curb our appetites...) Those who would see beyond the veils, who would understand the true nature of themselves, of reality, and of God must see with "two eyes."

There is a branch of cosmology and quantum theory that is concerned with the relationship between consciousness and "reality." John Wheeler--the great physicist and mentor to Richard Feynmann-was the godfather of this branch in some ways. As I understand it, it proposes a "Strong Anthropic Principle," meaning that the universe is ordered in such a way as to make what we call "human consciousness" not only possible but inevitable. Robert Lanza has also written some great books on this, including The Grand Biocentric Design. Lanza, I believe, is an atheist. I'm not sure about Wheeler, but my sense is that, at most, he could be called a deist.

So...this is already a longer answer than I had hoped, but the long and short of it is that I believe that we are made in God's image and that, whether we are at the "center" of creation or not, we are absolutely essential to it.

halpmeimacat2 karma

Can you explain how "we are absolutely essential to it"? My understanding of science says that if all of humanity disappeared, the rest of creation - life on earth - would still go on. For the better, some might even argue.

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

There are two ways to answer this: one based in faith and one based in science. Both apply in my case, but my sense is you are looking for the "scientific" answer.

I believe in quantum theory. The core of this, in my poor understanding, is that the observer is an essential part of any system of relations. The unobserved cat in the box is both alive and dead, in Schrodinger's thought experiment.

Without an observer, all things exist in Hilbert space, which is to say a superposition of all possibilities. It is only when observed, that a possibility wave collapses into what we call "reality."

Now...I'm probably butchering this description, but what I described above points broadly to what is known as as the Strong Anthropic Principle. This is the idea that the emergence of conscious intelligence--observational intelligence--is an essential feature of the structure of the universe.

mindoversoul40 karma

Why did you convert to catholicism and what did you convert from?

Sensitive_Necessary771 karma

I grew up as an evangelical Protestant. Lost my mother to brain cancer when I was 16. After that, I went through a period of "devout atheism."

In college, I studied comparative religion, mainly with the hope that I could eliminate any remaining vestiges of faith.

I was drawn to the Catholic Church by the example of John Paul II, by its rich intellectual traditions, and by the nagging sense that the universe is deeply and intrinsically sacramental.

I ultimately converted after I married my wife.

JosephReuelMurdock-7 karma

God Bless you! And I'm so sorry you went through that at such a young age. I was once a "devout atheist" as well. I studied religion to know more about other cultures and to prove the different religious traditions false. Got converted. I agree, I was drawn to Catholicism by the rich intellectual traditions and philosophy. Saint Thomas Aquinas and Augustine being key influences of mine.

Sensitive_Necessary74 karma

Sounds like we had a similar path!

plutonium-loveship28 karma

Two related questions:

One: What ultimately convinced you that the supernatural exists?

Two: What ultimately caused you to then make the jump from theism to believing that Catholicism was the one true religion out of the thousands of religions in the human experience?

Sensitive_Necessary71 karma

Oh, this question kept me up for awhile last night! I was tempted to get out of bed to answer...

One, I have personally had some experiences that I would describe as "supernatural." I won't get into them here because it seems evident that this is a poor forum to discuss such things, which by their very nature are subjective and personal.

The second part of your question is the more interesting, imo. I would not describe Catholicism as "the one true religion." I would describe it as a "fullness of truth."

What do I mean by that? Well, there are undoubtedly elements of truth in all religions. I am a great admirer of Taoism, for instance. I find many concordances between the "Way" of the Tao and the Word of the New Testament. The same may be said of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, etc...All of them are a seeking after God, and all true seekers after God will find him in their way.

What I was thinking about specifically last night was what might happen after I die. I would like to go straight to Heaven, of course. But I know myself and my own flaws well enough to think it is more like I go to Purgatory. My thought experiment was: "who would I see there?"

Many Christians, I would think. Many Catholics. Perhaps not as many people of other Faiths.

Where would they be? My own thought is, "mostly in Heaven."

This leads to another, darker thought. What about hell?

I think the answer is the same. If there are souls in hell, I suspect it would mainly be the souls of Christians and Catholics. Probably very few practitioners of other faiths. Probably very few atheists.

Why is this? Because to enter into relationship with Christ is to take on a grave responsibility. Following Him puts everything at risk, as it should.

hannahbaba5 karma

If your experiences with religion/spirituality/the supernatural are so private and personal that you don’t want to discuss them here, why make your religion the title of your AMA?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

I'm happy yo discuss them privately.

I think I've demonstrated a willingness to engage on other aspects of my experience.

Binford8625 karma

How long do you think it will be before we can upload ourselves to a computer and what do those, who do, get out of it?

Sensitive_Necessary721 karma

I don't think we will ever be able to do that. The idea that consciousness--being--is a thing distinct from our bodies is an error. Quite an old one, it turns out. It is what the Gnostics believed, which makes it one of the oldest heresies.

I do believe that patterns of thought, speech, perception, etc will be mapped and "uploaded." This process will perhaps even be so effective as to pass a kind of personal "Turing test" wherein the person's friends and loved ones are convinced that the person is still there.

Caddy66624 karma

i thought catholic sci fi was mormonism?

Sensitive_Necessary713 karma

This is an underrated comment!

Bjarki5621 karma

I read your book about a month ago. It was enjoyable.

You present a very optimistic view of the resurgence of religious belief as central to western society.

Do you think that is going to happen—as it seems like religious beliefs are seriously declining? If so, outside of a direct act of God, what do you think the catalyst will be for such a return to a religious worldview?

Sensitive_Necessary736 karma

Thank you!

I'm not sure that my book is optimistic about the return of faith in western society. The Revived Holy Roman empire in OLotA is mainly a southern hemisphere, sub-Saharan African polity. Western Europe and North America are presented as secularized economic zones.

As far as what it would take to restore faith in Europe...I'm not sure that is in the cards at all. If anything, I'd subscribe to Pope Benedict's view that the Church will become small but cohesive. Perhaps after that happens, there will be a new evangelization.

Superbrawlfan3 karma

I personally haven't read the book, but what leads you to believe religion has a future at all? Historically, as our understanding of the world and science improved, religion was generally reduced in importance and influence. One could say because it contradicts the knowledge and methodology in modern science.

Sensitive_Necessary74 karma

I think you are making two assumptive errors here.

The first is recency bias: the decrease in religious faith in the West in recent years. For much of western history, faith increased IN TANDEM with scientific knowledge. In fact, the Catholic Church, through its creation of hospitals, universities, and its sponsorship of scholars was largely responsible for this increase in knowledge. The originator of the Big Bang theory was a Catholic cosmologist.

We are at an "interesting" point in our scientific understanding of the world. After centuries of helping us better understand the nature of reality in *practical* terms, science has arrived a point where it is essentially incomprehensible even to the best of minds. "Anyone claiming to understand quantum theory is lying..." "Spooky action at a distance..." etc etc

My hope is there is clarity at some point beyond the current confusion. Time will tell. I suspect that, if there is an answer, it lies in the study of consciousness itself, which western science has largely ignored in favor of a focus of "objective" reality (despite the fact that objective reality is itself a myth under quantum law).

The second is local bias. Africa is growing faster--by far--than any other place on the planet. Nigeria will be the 3rd largest country in the world by 2100. Faith is exploding there, even as it diminishes in the West.

russiabot177612 karma

How do you have the Catholic teachings on human rational souls being specially created playing out with artificial intelligence in your novel? Are your AI also animated by rational souls?


Anyway, I’m picking up the book!


The first women to get a doctorate in computer science was a Catholic sister.

Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller

Seemed relevant to your book!

Sensitive_Necessary715 karma

Amazing! I didn't know that about Sr. Keller.

It's hard for me to answer your question without the book, there are both natural and supernatural forces at play. Or so it seems.

John-Peter-5009 karma

Hi Andrew

I have a question about trans humanism and is that what are the problems with trans humanism like I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of people who are critics of it and like for example mine uploading like there’s multiple factors of scientific and philosophical issues to address like there’s a lot of problems with mine uploading that people say it makes it in theoretically impossible because we don’t know what truly happens when you upload someone’s mind to a computer it raises so much questions like is it really you or a copy? This is a philosophical question that I feel like it can never be answered because we can only assume but we can never be sure what truly happens when someone uploads of mind to a computer? So might take us what do you think about the critics and people who say mind uploading is impossible based on what I just said I look forward to your response.

Sensitive_Necessary718 karma

We barely understand space, time, and matter. We are far from understanding consciousness. Tinkering around with it, attempting to separate it from the body and make it immortal etc seems to me to be a fool's errand on the same level as a chimpanzee attempting to reconstruct an F-15.

Of course, that doesn't mean people won't try. What I expect is that ai will get so good at mimicking a person's core patterns of thought, speech, behavior, and belief that it will create a simulacrum of the human person. Friends and family might even be convinced that grandpa or Aunt Kathy has actually been brought back to life.

cotopaxi4208 karma

Why do you find spirituality necessary?

Sensitive_Necessary76 karma

I find it necessary for me.

Haywood_jablowmeeee7 karma

Have you ever had the opportunity to visit The Vatican? Saint Peters Basilica, Sistine Chapel and the museum are jaw dropping.

Sensitive_Necessary712 karma

Yes! Rome is my favorite city.

Haywood_jablowmeeee6 karma

I’ve never see so much cool clear water flowing out of so many fountains. It’s a great city.

Sensitive_Necessary78 karma

My favorite is Santa Maria in Trastevere. The mosaics there are a little taste of heaven.

alinalani7 karma

How long did it take you to write the novel? What was your favorite part of the process?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

I wrote the novel in about 6 months. Of course, I spent years thinking about the topic and researching before I ever put pen to page.

It was not a particularly "fun" process. It was kind of painful at times. Angsty. Stressful.

My favorite part was finishing it!

Dinsteho6 karma

Sorry about the ridiculous Reddit vitriol you’ve had to face here, it’s pretty part for the course on this site though. I haven’t read your book yet, but it’s now on my list. The joining of religion and sci-fi has always been a topic I’ve had great interest in, and I find your comments on how many sci-fi authors simply hand wave religion away very poignant. I’ve always believed that science is a beautiful understanding of the Lord’s creation.

As a question for your AMA, do you have any worries or issues with AI? I know that’s a hot topic and a lot of people are worried about potential ramifications of such a thing existing.

Very excited to give your book a read in the coming days and I wish you the absolute best with your writing career going forward!

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

It really hasn't been an issue. Maybe it would have been when I was younger and had thinner skin, but I've honestly enjoyed the conversation here.

I do have worries about AI, but my far bigger worry is transhumanism.

AI is simply an extension of our toolmaking faculties. I frankly have my doubts as to whether or not it will ever achieve "sentience," whatever that means. If it does, it certainly will be interesting.

Transhumanism, on the other hand, seeks to fundamentally alter our nature. If AI is about making better tools, then transhumanism is in a sense about making *us* into tools.

Sensitive_Necessary76 karma

This has been a really fun and interesting discussion. Much moreso than I expected.

I want to thank everyone who participated--even (especially?) those who see the world differently than I do.

StinkierPete5 karma

Do you parse through the political rewritings of biblical texts or is that all canon to you as a Catholic?

Sensitive_Necessary712 karma

I'm not sure I understand the question.

StinkierPete7 karma

Several politically motivated rewriting of biblical texts are known to have occurred. Do you parse through those or do you subscribe to a particular edition of the bible as cannon?

Sensitive_Necessary734 karma

Ah, ok. I read from a variety of translations, though I'm sure they are all flawed. The King James Version I grew up with, for example, is valuable for its poetic beauty even though it clearly had a "political" agenda. My favorite is the Douey-Rheims. My everyday go-to is the NLT.

russiabot17764 karma

Will there be a hardcover release?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

Yes! Working on it. Possibly as soon as tomorrow!

Avachiel4 karma

I'd love to write one day, but am concerned that one can't attain any sort of living in a time where people don't buy books.

Do you find that to be true?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

Oh, very much so.

You'd be better off setting a lemonade stand if you are interested in making money.

Xplayer3 karma

What inspired you to toss yourself into the lion's den of Reddit and do this AMA here, knowing the site is generally hostile towards organized religion?

Sensitive_Necessary75 karma

Um...I didn't really know that, tbh.

Naively, I thought this would be mainly a discussion about the book, about AI, about transhumanism, etc. In fact, I almost didn't mention the Catholicism aspect in the title because I thought it would irrelevant.

That said, I really glad I did! This turned out to be a far more interesting discussion than I expected!!!

cryptohemsworth2 karma

You ever read gene Wolfe?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

Yes! Love Gene Wolfe!!!

knfr2 karma

Who are some of your favorite influential authors?

What’s your recommendation for would be authors nervous about sharing their writings with others?

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

My favorites include, in no particular order:

Tolkien, Lewis, Dan Simmons, Gene Wolfe, Ursula LeGuin, Walter Miller, James SA Corey, GRR Martin, Stanislaw Lem, Asimov, Clarke, Orson Scott Card

My advice would be: push through the fear! you have created something. that is a huge accomplishment. it doesn't have to be perfect.

Serious-Discussion-22 karma

Do you like the sci-fic movie Tenet from Nolan? :)

Sensitive_Necessary73 karma

I haven't seen it.

In general though I love his work.

MonserratLoyola-5 karma

I read slme reviews of your work and it really made me happy. It's unfortunate that the anti-religion bias is ever present in sci-fi literature, but your work surely will be a inspiration for plenty more authors to come.

What made you think that the southern hemisphere should have a greater role in your book? I'm a catholic in south america and i see daily that our religion is unfortunately diminishing in popularity (losing people to protestantism for an example) in countries that used to have a catholic majority.

Also, what are your thoughts about the imminent crisis in Germany? Did it have an effect in your vision of Europe's future?

Sensitive_Necessary712 karma

Sorry for the multiple replies, but I keep thinking of other things I want to say in response to your questions.

I am happy that people--even non religious people--seem to be enjoying the book. Truth be told, I wrote it mainly for agnostics and seekers because temperamentally, they are my "tribe."

It is imperative that Catholics engage the broader culture. We cannot just talk to ourselves. We must put forth art qmd thought that beckons people to Christ, as we have done for 2,000 years.

The so-called Benedict Option proposed by Rod Dreher is no option at all.

Sensitive_Necessary76 karma

As for the German Bishops and the Synod...I pray that they will see the folly of what they are doing. I believe Pope Francis is doing everything he can to prevent schism.

Sensitive_Necessary71 karma

Thank you!

I am not optimistic about Europe. It seems to me to be so far gone as to be irrecoverable, absent some kind of divine intervention. That is not to say that the Faith will be extinguished there. Rather, I think it will follow the path laid out by Pope Benedict, who said it would become much smaller but more cohesive.

I share your concerns about South America, but there I must place my trust in Our Lady of Guadaloupe.

As for Africa, I am wildly, insane optimistic. The faith is growing quite fast there, and sub Saharan Africa is itself growing faster than any other part of thr world. By 2100 Nigeria may be the 3rd most populous country on Earth.

NewMasterKush-26 karma

Why would you choose to limit yourself so much with the dogma of a 1500 year old religion based in massacre's, torture, genocide and pedophilia? Are you actually so limited in imagination that you'd try to mix an ancient religion with sci-fi? Why not make it an "Olympian sci-fi novel" If we're going to use current religions in the future why not use even older ones? Did you not realize the whole point of sci-fi is to look at what people might be like in the future? Obviously every religion has a self life until it turns into mythology. Why even brother writing a book if you're not going to explore such things?

Sensitive_Necessary722 karma

Well, I certainly don't see it as limiting. And I would obviously disagree with the idea that my faith is "based in" massacres, torture, genocide, pedophilia, etc.

There are some great Olympian sci-fi novels out there, particularly the ones by Rick Riordan if that suits your taste. There is of course plenty of atheistic sci fi as well.

Part of the problem with modern sci-fi, in my opinion, is that it fails to take religious faith of any kind seriously. Religion has been a part of humanity's essential nature since the beginning. The idea that it will simply "disappear" seems odd and disconnected from reality. How can you write interesting books while ignoring such an important part of human life and culture?

Sensitive_Necessary720 karma

I'm going to reply to myself here to add that Dan Abraham and Ty Franck deserve enormous credit for not falling into this trope-trap with The Expanse. They seemed to go out of their way to include religious points of view, even though the series itself could hardly be called "religious."