Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

xnscifiOver 4 years ago, I wrote an essay that caused me to seriously think about writing something like Johnny Came Home.

At the time, I was writing Øtherworld, a sci-fi tale with fantasy overtones. I was having a hard time finishing it, so I wrote this essay to sharpen my focus a bit. The idea was to define my over-all aim as what fellow author JC Lamont terms a “literary apologist.” I managed to do that, but the essay is more noteworthy for the brainstorming session it contains. This updated version of Faith-Based Sci-Fi As Exploratory Apologetic continues in that tradition.

Enjoy!

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Now by all accounts science fiction is a bit of a hard sell for the Christian book market. The reason for this is bound up in our eschatology, our beliefs about the End of All Things. End Times views within Christendom come a few clearly defined and argued categories. Most folks are familiar with the Darbyist view [pretribulational dispensationalist Rapturists] on which Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series was based. If Christendom has an established sci-fi market, it is predominantly for this specific flavor of End Times fiction. And who can blame us? It’s exciting stuff. A small, desperate, but resolute band of believers beleaguered by the all-powerful AntiChrist, a megalomaniacal dictator in control of a fascist New World Order. The story has a powerful opening hook: the sudden disappearance of every Bible-believing Christian on the planet and climaxes in the bona fide War to End All Wars, the Armageddon, and the Triumphant Return of Christ. The setting and the Bible’s mention of martyrs and divine judgments make any half-decent effort a gripping read.

I digress.

If the selective mass market offerings of Christian book chains are any indication, this is the only sort of exploratory apologetic we have. I remember browsing the local Christian bookstores, just bored out of my mind. With few exceptions, I was looking an endless sea of romance novels, marketed at women. I’m a guy, so I’m into science fiction, fantasy and action thrillers. I remember thinking, “Why should I be forced to get the stuff I actually enjoy reading from secular bookstores in novels written from a non- or even anti-Christian worldview?”

What about the stuff of traditional sci-fi? What about alien worlds? Aliens? Space travel? Artificial Intelligence? Where was the Christian exploration of these subjects? In essence, why couldn’t I read “Do Android Prayers Reach the Ears of God?” [in the tradition of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner]?

Let me tell you some specific things I’d like to see addressed: (more…)

“We need more science fiction,” writes Paul Chiariello for The NewHumanism.org in a post called Science Fiction vs. The Bible.

As a Christian author who happens to be a rabid sci-fi fan, I couldn’t agree more with that statement. At face value anyway. I could not disagree more with his insistence that this necessarily requires an abandonment of revealed truth, specifically the Bible.

While Chiariello begins with assurances that he likes the Bible, that much of it still inspires him and he can still find value within its pages, and that “it is clear that the Bible and other revealed doctrines have played an important role in society,” he feels we “simply need to move on. And what we desperately need now is more Science Fiction.”

Why? Well, he thinks that the point of sci-fi is “to ask questions about your beliefs and to outline new pictures of the world. When reading Orwell’s 1984 and other dystopias you simply cannot help but wrestle with the warnings they give. The future is not guaranteed to us and it is this complacency that is the real enemy of any dystopian novel.” To a certain degree, he’s right, except that he supposes that the certain truths revealed in the Bible somehow lead to complacency of thought. Has he sampled the bevy of Christian sci-fi dealing with eschatology [the theology of future events] recently? If he bothered, he’d find a wide range of explorations of the possible fulfillment of end times Bible prophecy.

In attempting to make his point that we need more fiction and less Bible, he makes the mistake of comparing and contrasting the terms science and revelation. In his opinion, “while revealtion hands over a set of givens, science provides a method for being justified in discovering them.” But the scientific method doesn’t really apply to imagineering a future possibility, though I can understand his confusion on the subject given the sheer amount of imagineering that’s gone into concoting an all-natural history of the cosmos in the name of science! In any case, Chiariello seems to suppose that a trial-and-error process of discovering the truth is somehow better than truth revealed by God. He complains that “the very word ‘Revealed’, implies a truth outside our grasp.” But why would it matter whether truth was “dictated to us” rather than having been discovered by some method contrived by humanity, so long as the truth was actually true. His problem seems to be that he cannot disagree with revealed truth without being wrong. He laments that “It will never be the case… that new information will prove old revelations false. When the Revealer is omniscient by definition, if your interpretation brings to light some inconsistency in the book, you simply have the wrong interpretation.” To put it another way, “Revealed truth… claims to have no errors or exceptions.”

Chiariello prefers the safety of a future what if or might be to revealed truth, because he supposes that he can then be free to shape whatever future he prefers. He complains that “Within the worldview of most revealed truths, all new ideas must be found consistent with the past through a Habit of Interpretation. When tied down like this, dreaming our own dreams becomes impossible.” This is an odd objection considering the fact that he freely admits that “It doesn’t take much to realize there is only one future and we will face it, no matter what our beliefs are.” I should add that not only is there only one future we all will face, we will face it regardless of science fiction dreams to the contrary!

A good deal of his argument is based on a logical fallacy, an appeal to novelty. Chiariello false assumes that old revelation becomes irrelevant when facing new problems. For example,  noting that understanding revealed truth still requires that we comprehend the historical [and grammatical] context in order to correctly determine the Bible’s intended meaning, he objects, ‘But how do we do that when asking radically new questions, like those we now face about the Internet or Climate Change? When these prophets had no idea even how the climate worked – besides ‘God did it’ – how can we unearth their hidden wisdom?” It sounds all well and good, but he’s completely inconsistent… and he’s inconsistent because he’s wrong. The questions we face about the Internet and Climate Change are simply the same old questions with slightly new subjects. There is nothing new under the sun; despite all the voyages of discovery, new inventions and men who pursued big idea, we are left with the same old all-too-human problems: survival, morality, meaning, purpose, happiness, etc.

It is these questions which revelation addresses authoratively and which science fiction addresses speculatively. To clarify, science fiction might ask moral or teleological questions about an imagined, perhaps even possible future, but the Bible addresses these questions authoratively. Unless of course Chiariello is suggesting that morality is subjective and situational. If he is, does he have any nonarbitrary, logically consistent basis for condemning the Holocaust or even for saying we ought to have more sci-fi and that we “must dethrone the words of dead giants locked in dead contexts.” Anytime, we state that we ought to do something, we invoke morality and if it really were subjective, he’d have no basis for telling anyone else we ought to abandon the Bible for speculative science fictions.

Of course, this is exactly what humanists and other evolutionists have done in embracing millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution; they’ve exchanged the truth of God for all-natural science fictions of their own imagineering!

In his fallacious appeal to novelty, he ignores the axiom that those who neglect the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them. He seems to recognize this indirectly, offering as a concesion that he’s not saying that “devotees of Sci Fi cannot ‘stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther.'” He just doesn’t want us standing on the authority of God’s revealed Word, the Bible.

His closing statements are revealing:

“If it is in fact the case that our future problems will be unlike anything we have already faced, our only real hope lies in preparing for new contexts by dreaming big, focusing on what we know and acknowledging that we could easily be wrong… Without any revealed truths given to us we are confronted with an infinite sea of possibilities.” Of course, it’s impossible to focus on what we know, unless we stand on the shoulders of dead giants, as it were. Our present knowledge consists of what was learned in the past, not speculations on the future.

And as far as “an endless sea of possibilities,” isn’t this the same fellow that admits earlier in his essay that “It doesn’t take much to realize there is only one future and we will face it, no matter what our beliefs are”? As he admits, “Sci Fi is understood as fiction and makes clear from the outset that it is fallible and only a tentative exploration.” So why does he suppose that science fiction speculations better than the certain truth of Biblical revelation? Would you listen to someone who said, “Hey, our guide isn’t always right and you might well perish on this trip if you follow him. It’s soooo much better than a certain and infallible guide”?? Of course not!

To borrow one of Jesus’ illustrations, we’d be better off to build our house on the Solid Rock of His revealed Word than the shifting sands of man’s speculations!

This is not to say that science fiction doesn’t have benfit. In fact, I heartily agree that we need more science fiction. Through science fiction, we can explore enduring human questions and demonstrate that the authority of God’s Word can be trusted in any future imaginable. For example, Tim Chaffey and JoeWestbrook explore both human questions and questions of Biblical authority in their delightful series about four kids in a time-travelling hovercar in The Truth Chronicles series. In Johnny Came Home, my soon-to-be published novel, I explore questions of racism, purpose, what it means to be human, creation and evolution, and Biblical authority in a tale filled with future tech, conspiracy theories, super-powered battles, flying saucers and Biblical truth. It is my profound hope that we are seeing the beginning of a Christian sci-fi boom that will explore the enduring questions of the human  condition while affirming the truth and authority of God’s revealed Word.

Till Christ Comes [a revealed truth of which you can be certain!],

Tony Breeden