Author Gene Logsdon Shares His Thoughts on Immortality, Bird-Watching and the Tao of Nature

Gene Logsdon discusses dying and the finer points of immortality, as explored in his newest book, 'Gene Everlasting.'

| February 24, 2014

  • Gene Logsdon
    Photo by Ben Barnes

Gene Logsdon is a widely acclaimed farmer and philosopher, journalist, essayist and novelist. He has written more than two dozen books, ranging from the practical (Small-Scale Grain Raising) to the ruminative (The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse). His most recent book is Gene Everlasting, in which he discusses his cancer diagnosis and a whole lot more in a series of essays that Publishers Weekly called “life-affirming” and Kirkus Reviews calls a “perceptive and understatedly well-written meditation.”

Shay Totten, Communications Director of Chelsea Green Publishing, conducted this interview with Logsdon on Feb. 10. Gene Everlasting was published Feb. 18. — Robin Mather, Senior Associate Editor, MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Shay Totten: The subtitle of your book is “Thoughts on Living Forever.” So, after writing the book and thinking about it: Is immortality worth it? Is it overrated?

Gene Logsdon: I wanted to come up with a book sort of making fun of the concept of immortality, one that would be critical of conventional religious views but not show the kind of atheistic righteousness you see in books by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens on this topic. I more or less agree with them, but found them a little too angry and strident for the religious believers I grew up with and belonged to — too nasty. I used to be angry that way, but I got over it. That kind of approach just makes religious believers all the more convinced that they are right.

But it’s a tough subject to write and talk about without irritating someone. Ideology starts dominating the talk right away. Discussion quickly comes down to “my religion versus your religion” or “my lack of religion versus your lack of religion.” We’re all so filled up with such fear of the unknown about this topic. Even atheists can get religious once in a while, and by that I mean too fervent about their beliefs, as can those who believe that science has all the answers. I have made snide remarks about black holes being quite a stretch, and, in doing so, irritated scientists. I see where the famed scientist Stephen Hawking, who started the monstrous notion of black holes, now says they don’t exist. 

Sylvester Eply
3/12/2014 10:10:23 AM

(Yawn). Logsdon's is the usual strategy for those who have created their own religion: "conventional religion" is humbug, but mine is enlightened and rational. I own and enjoyed his book on small grain farming, but shrugged off the annoying self-righteous comments about religion. As for his materialism, it's always been the irrational refuge of those for whom the universe becomes god. As C. S. Lewis said, "It appeals to every part of me but my intellect. I believe it no longer." Logsdon's caricature of "immortality" is so uninformed that it is unbecoming of the man. Jesus Christ came to give humans Life, real divine Life, not just an eternal existence in our current selfish, greedy, corrupted state. (Logsdon is at least right about that. Yes, who would want to live forever as creatures blinded by pride, slavery to self-indulgence and indifference to our neighbor?) This glorious promise of this new Life is splashed all over the New Testament. How can Logsdon have missed this? We're not talking about mere "immortality", but a profound change, a transformation which actually begins in some measure right here and now, that goes way beyond our feeble imaginations. By faith and repentance we can receive this new life, become united to Love himself, and enjoy the true destiny intended for human beings from the beginning. May Mr. Logsdon find healing for his cancer and eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3/10/2014 10:23:34 AM

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." (Psalm 14:1). "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen... without faith it is impossible to please Him..." (Hebrews 11:1&6). "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory'." (1 Corinthians 15:51-54. When it's all said and done, I'd rather base my existence and my future on my faith rather than the unbelief of others. "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12).

3/10/2014 10:07:05 AM

No, Stephen Hawking Did Not Say Black Holes Don't Exist You've probably seen plenty of headlines this week proclaiming "Stephen Hawking Says Black Holes Don't Exist," and heard people who read those headlines chattering excitedly about this seemingly huge shift in astrophysics. But as PopMech wisely points out, that's not an accurate summary of what Hawking actually said. All of this stems from a short paper Hawking submitted on January 22nd, titled "Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes." And yes, the phrase "there are no black holes" appears in that paper. But there isn't a period at the end of it. In full, it states "there are no black holes—in the sense of regimes from which light can't escape to infinity. There are, however, apparent horizons which persist for a period of time."

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