Why I Wrote This Book

Steven Peck
This book is unusual. In more ways than one. Well, maybe in more ways than ten. It’s a book about theology written by a Biologist. More strange perhaps is that I actually believe that science matters to theology, and visa-versa. Not a watered down science, mind you, but a full-bodied science that embraces all that that word means. No punches are pulled here. Well, that’s the wrong metaphor because it sounds like Science and Theology are entering a cage match in a winner-take-all blood fest. I need something that captures the idea that Theology and Science need each other. That they are better together than apart. That both become something richer and more compelling when they are holding hands on the beach and looking at a sunset than when they are duking it out in the ring. So what metaphor captures that? I know Frodo and Sam in Mordor. There we go. Frodo and Sam carrying the ring of falsehood into hostile territory to toss the thing into the Fires of Doom.

Really though this book is an act of love. For too long I’ve seen Faith and Science being made enemies. With the two construed as competing in a zero-sum game such that there must be a loser and a winner. Even a cursory look at the books being published today suggests that the two are incompatible and the chant, “Two worldviews enter, one worldview leaves!” echoes over and over though the rabid crowd of spectators.

This theology book draws on a number of previous theologians: Philip K. Dick, Joss Whedon, JRR Tolkien, Kierkegaard, Pierce, Augustine, and of course, of course, of course, Darwin. LDS scriptures are added to the hermeneutic circle. I even quote Saturday’s Warrior. So it’s a wild ride. Plus you’ll read thrilling accounts of me being attacked by bees, getting in honeymoon car wrecks with drunk drivers, and visiting the bones of a long lost relative and finding they’ve been removed and snatched away to Texas. The work contains both math and poetry, and it’s got pictures for those of you who aren’t fans of words.

This is the first of two books. In this one you’ll be introduced to some particulars of science that you’ll need for the theology in the second book: Emergence, Chaos, Randomness, Determinism, Evolution, Ecology, Apoietic Systems, Complexity Theory, and Time. Interspersed with these are fun interludes to remind you of why we study science. The book is 262 pages of exciting thought or at least something to start a conversation (argument?) about the role of science in Mormon Studies.

I’m so excited for the BCC Press which this book launches. Mike Austin as been an amazing editor on this work and Steve Evans has been a relentless supporter. All of my BCC colleagues deserve a piece of the credit on this and I can’t think of any that haven’t helped and contributed to this work in one way or another. That I know such wonderful people makes me feel as if I’ve been drinking a draught of Felix Felicis potion for the last eight years. Blessings on the lot of them.
P.S. For today only, it is on discount at Amazon. It is $9.99 for the paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle. If you buy it at CreateSpace you can use this one day only code (VJV5RNU6) for 20% off these already, low, low prices.

P.P.S. Added–I’m was asked below how this book differs from Evolving Faith, which you should also read. EF is a collection of essays that explore questions about faith and science, this book is a whole book that looks at how science can inform theology and why it should. Both can be read profitably. None of the chapters (except for some poetry and asides) have ever been published before.


  1. I’m already reading and I already want to argue. Great fun.

  2. DeAnn S says:

    Do the Kindle and Paperback versions vary?

  3. DeAnn just in format, for example the Kindle uses endnotes while the print uses footnotes. Content is the same.

  4. Hi Steve, I loved Evolving Faith. Is there much overlap with that book? Any predictions as to when Book 2 will be ready?

  5. Gomez, Not much overlap in content, but lots in subject matter: Science. This is not a collection of separate essays like Evolving Faith, but an entire book that systematically explores the role that science should play in Mormon Theology. Both I think are worth reading (I would say that wouldn’t I).

  6. Sounds great. I was planning on buying it anyway. And Book 2?

  7. It’s several months away.

  8. This looks great. Ordered.

  9. Gorgeous cover and excellent insides. I think I have to opt for a hard copy because it’s so pretty.

  10. Brian Dillman says:

    I’ve been needing something to read in the hall at church. Thank you Sir!

  11. sidebottom says:

    Isn’t biology already a ‘watered down science’?

  12. In America for only a couple of weeks. What’s the delivery time?

  13. Nah, it’s watered down physics. LOL. (I kid, I kid…)

    Any chance of an iBook version? Although I notice it’s available for free if you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. (Did you intend that?)

  14. Hi Clark,

    Since we do most of our distribution through Amazon, there is no way for us to distribute an iBook version, as Amazon frowns on distributing its competitor’s formats. We could do it in the future, though, if there is enough demand.

    And yes, we do know that it is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. If we agree to do this, Amazon offers a much higher royalty rate on normal sales. FWIW, it is also enrolled in the match book program, so if you buy it in paperback, the Kindle version is only $1.99.

  15. Interesting, I didn’t know Amazon was doing that. Surprised there’s not an anti-trust lawsuit there.

  16. Wonderful — I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of some sections through the editing process and am extremely excited to own and gift to many people the finished product!

  17. This is kind of a big deal, folks. Really happy this is seeiing the light of day.

  18. John Mansfield says:

    Without getting into arguing the correctness of the notion, does this new book glory in science as a blood-thirsty free-for-all? I ask since the first paragraph above indicates the author feels that sort of metaphor is unsuitable for describing the relation of science with religion, and that gives hope for how the book may analyze the working of science.

  19. wreddyornot says:

    I have read a few of your books (e.g. Scholar, Stay in Hell, and Evolving) and am looking forward to this one, too. Keep up the great writing.

  20. Didn’t Parley P. Pratt write a book with the same title?

  21. Parley’s title was “Key to the Science of Theology”.

  22. Just got my copy on Sunday (along with the Kindle for only $2!) and am very much looking forward to it. I have one other book to finish first.

    One of the things that drew me to Mormonism was its theological ability to co-exist with science, something that has seemingly been shoved under the carpet in the last thirty years with correlation and the shocking number of Saints who espouse traditional evangelical nonsense about evolution and creation, etc.

  23. Eric Russell says:

    Just finished. My first reaction is that it’s remarkably accessible and engaging, especially given the density of its subject matter. There was never a dull moment – which I was impressed by considering I have no particular interest in ecology per se.

    As interesting as it is, however, the experience felt a bit like waiting in line a few hours for a ride at Disneyland and coming up to the turnstile where you can finally catch a glimpse of the ride itself – and then hearing an announcement that the ride is closing for maintenance. If I had known what I was in for, I might have just waited for Vol. 2 before getting started.

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