"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
May 5, 2014
Our Binary Nature
by Ami Chopine

Since the first time we wanted to know just how many mouths we had to feed, we’ve counted with our fingers. Ten fingers and ten toes. It’s such a norm to us that we use that phrase to suggest that a newborn child is perfect and beautiful.

It’s no surprise that when people started seriously counting and learning new tricks with numbers, we used ten as our base. But we don’t have confine ourselves to the decimal system.

There are several other number systems we use regularly, including the two-number system, binary. Since 0 and 1 can be signified by “off” and “on,” it’s the easiest numeral system for computers.

(But I hate it on switches because I have to think — which is on or off, the stylized 1 or 0?)

Binary is the simplest number system that can handle meaningful information.

Now think of existence as an information system composed of physical numerals. All matter is actually organized energy. You know, E=MC^2.

When you break it down like that, there are, like computers, only two states: No energy and energy.

Imagine if in existence there had only been one of these states? It would be either a state of infinite nothingness or, as strange as it sounds, an infinite expanse of infinite energy at infinite densities.

Impossible, you say? No less impossible than nothingness.

If there is nothing, then nothing can happen. If there is an infinite denseness through an infinite expanse then again, nothing can happen.

When you think about it, there is perhaps no difference at all between them because there is no variation across the whole. But when they come into contact with each other, then we have the possibilities of difference and movement. We need the nothing as much as the all.

That particular opposition is the foundation of our existence. As we climb up from sub-subatomic to larger scales we find this pattern continues.

Atoms are made up of neutrons and protons in the nucleus and electrons zipping around. Protons have a positive charge, and electrons have a negative charge. Because of this, the number of electrons exactly matches the number of protons.

This electromagnetic binary pairing shapes atoms and molecules.

Electrons have an arrangement of orbitals of different energy levels surrounding the nucleus. The energy of the electron determines which orbital it will be in by how close they are to the nucleus. Each orbital can only hold two electrons and if it has only one electron, they are always trying to attract another.

It’s not because they’re lonely and looking for love.

It’s because of electron spin. Each orbital has an electron with up spin and one with down spin. Electron spin is akin to electromagnetic charge.

With only one electron, the electron orbitals are off-balance. This need for a full orbital is powerful enough that it causes atoms to bind together to make molecules. They share the electrons so they can each have full orbitals.

Cell membranes work because of the polar and non-polar nature of different parts of the molecule. The molecular gates that let things in or out? Basically on/off switches.

These are all binary information systems.

“And yea, there must needs be an opposition in all things.” 2 Nephi 2:11

The most efficient and genetically robust way of reproduction is binary. A man and a woman.

Many organisms do reproduce asexually, but this means that any bad mutations doom all of their posterity, and possibly ends it. 

Reproduction requiring two genders results in the ability to weed out bad mutations without dooming all the children of a couple.

Now, if you know me, you know I like a little fiction on the side of my science. What if there were three genders? That would require at least two encounters of the organisms to reproduce and three healthy individuals.

No matter how that played out, it would reduce the chances of all those individuals to have children.

Enough of my speculation. What about revelation?

It is clear. 

"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." — The Proclamation on the Family.

And from that document, as well as many scriptures including Doctrine and Covenants sections 131 and 132, and the words of all the modern prophets, we learn that marriage between a man and a woman is eternal, and required for exaltation. 

We know that if we remain righteous and married for eternity, we will find ourselves in that place where we are heirs to everything. We know that without that marriage we are stopped in our progression.

Any misgivings we may have about our gender in any form is the result of our mortal state — either our own stuff (in or out of our control) that we’ve got to work through or the actions of others who are unkind and/or misuse their gender and mistake dominance for power.

We are our gender in our spirit, in our genetics, in the structure of our brain and body, and in the roles we take in reproduction — both essential to the process. We are intelligences with a binary aspect.

I think that if we had the same gender, we would have no differences in our perfection. With eternal sameness, how could there be change? And without change, how could there be posterity and growth?

We need each other. We need the other to have the strengths that we don’t have. We need each other to give us the great blessing of helping the other’s weaknesses.

We don’t have to put on the weaknesses of the other gender (ambition for control over others or vanity, for example) to be equal. And putting down the other won’t lift us up, but drag us all down.

We can only return to our Heavenly Parents when we are ourselves eternally partnered as they are, righteous in Christ, and sealed with the priesthood as husband and wife.

If we have hearkened and been gathered in, we will stand together at the brink of eternity, twined together in our full potential.

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About Ami Chopine

Ami Chopine started out her mortal existence as a single cell. That cell divided into a collection of cells that cooperated enough to do such things as eat, crawl, walk and eventually read a lot and do grownuppy things.

When she was seven years old, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, she decided she wanted to be a scientist when she grew up. Even though she studied molecular biology at the University of Utah, that didn't quite come to pass. She became a writer instead. Still, her passion for science and honest inquiry has remained and married itself to her love of the Gospel. 

Ami is married to Vladimir and together they have four amazing children -- three in college and one in elementary school, where Ami is president of the Family School Organization. Vladimir is the better cook, but Ami is the better baker. She also knits, gardens, stares at clouds, and sings. She can only do three of these at the same time.

Besides two published computer graphics books and several magazine tutorials, she writes science fiction and has a couple of short stories published. You can find her blog at www.amichopine.com.

Ami was surprised to not be given a calling as some kind of teacher the last time she was called into the bishop's office. She currently serves as the Young Women Secretary -- somewhat challenging for the girl whose grandmother used to call the absentminded professor.

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