Posts Tagged ‘deus ex machina’

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…)

Johnny Came Home is my upcoming superhero sci-fi novel set in the town of Midwich, West Virginia. Noting that microbes-to-man evolution is the the preferred explanation for comic book super powers these days, I basically set out to see if superheroes could be explained from a Biblical creationist POV. God willing, I’m finally gonna release this bad boy Summer 2012.

For those of you who were wondering what happened to Johnny Came Home, which was originally slated for publication last summer, here’s the deal:

Editing this Biblically faithful superhero novel took much longer than I originally thought! I had no idea how many typos and grammar errors can creep into a document when you’re not looking! As much as I hate to admit it, as I began editing Johnny I noticed a few plot holes.

Plot holes are one of my personal pet peeves. I cannot count the times that I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in a book, quite enjoying myself

Again, these imaginary worlds have boundaries and rules which cannot be violated if we’re to be faithful to our readers. Even historical fiction is really an imaginary world where we flesh out the details and dialogue of real events, for we don’t really know the details and dialogue we’ve just added really occurred. In fact, we can only say that our story is one possible way these events might have played out. If you create a scenario which defies the rules of your imaginary world, or a ridiculously fortuitous deus ex machina [whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object], or a credibility-sucking irredeemable plot hole, you’ve violated your readers investment in that world.

Let’s take a real-world example to drive this point home:

Science today is played by the rule of pure naturalism, so in creating [they would say re-creating, but I’ll get to that erroneous notion] the history of the cosmos and life here on earth, they can only consider all-natural answers to the evidence of nature. they cannot consider deities, fairies or any other impossible thing. According to the rules, science deals with things that are observable and repeatable and then extrapolates these observations backwards to events that happened in the historical past. As they say, the present is the key to the past, which is the principle of uniformitarianism. So far, so good, as far as science fiction worlds go. And yes we’re dealing with science fiction here, for barring the invention of a time machine or some other credible witness by which we could verify the events of the past, we can only say that this is one possible way things might have played out. In the case of modern science, we can only say that their story is how things probably played out in answer to the question, “What IF the world came to be by all-natural processes consitent with those we observe today?”

It goes without saying that if the premise is wrong [i.e., if pure naturalism is a false assumption and God actually exists so that He had something to do with the origin and history of the cosmos], the story becomes totally improbable.

The problem for the evolutionary fiction we teach our kids is that it contains a few crimes against fiction, things that frankly destroyed it credibility when I stumbled upon them. Keep in mind that we’re answering the question, “What IF the world came to be by all-natural processes consistent with those we observe today?” Yet right from the beginning of the story, we have a deus ex machina whereby either everything came from nothing [not something we observe happening today] or as a property of the multiverse [which is unobservable and theoretical]. So the question has really been adjusted to “What If the world came to be by some miraculous event or by some unobservable multiverse straight out of a science fiction novel, but then developed by all-natural processes consistent with those we observe today?” Again, we have a problem – several in fact! The evolutionary science fiction tale requires other things we never observe, special one-time events that are quite simply miracles: they propose information without an intelligent source [though our experience teaches us that information always the product of intelligence], life from non-life, and the gradual development of one kind of organism into another [viz. fish to amphibians, dinosaurs to birds, ape-like ancestors to humans]. None of these things have ever been observed. There is no present process that can account for them. They require deus ex machina to move the plot along.

But wait! you might say. Evolution occurs by the gradual adaptation of an organism via mutation and natural selection and the fossil record shows this. Except it doesn’t. The fossil record shows stasis and sudden appearance. The fossil record shows phyla that are full formed. Dogs are still dogs and recognizably so, whether a wolf, Australian shepherd or English bulldog. Observable nature confirms the Biblicla claim of variation within created kinds, as does the fossil record. The late evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould stands as a hostile witness to this fact, when he wrote the following:

“The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’”

Now let’s examine that quote a little more closely:

“The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism [gradualism: i.e., mainstream evolution as taught in our public school textbooks]: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. [A dog is still a dog and recognizably so, be it a wolf, English bulldog or a wiener dog.] 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors [and keep in mind that a species arising “gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors” is, again, pretty much a textbook definition of the sort of evolution our textbooks teach. But instead of OBSERVING what’s taught in textbooks in the fossil record we see instead that]; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.”

Rather than admitting that the evidence doesn’t affirm microbes-to-man evolution, he came up with punctuated equilibrium, the idea that organisms speciate, adapt and mutate as we observe today [facts which Creationists likewise affirm], but then undergo rapid [geologically speaking] evolution periodically which causes one type of creature to change into a completely kind of organism; conveniently, these changes occur in the gaps in the fossil record, so that he’s extrapolationg from the lack of evidence for Darwin’s predicted transitional forms rather than evidence supporting his theory! This is a major plot hole in the evolutionary science fiction tale we are taught in public schools!

Neither is the only plot hole in the all-natural just-so story of the cosmos. Co-evolution is proposed to explain the contradiction that bees [and other pollinators] need pollen to survive and flowers need vectors [pollinators] to survive, but no one can fathom how this [or anyother form of co-evolution] developed. Homology is touted as evidence for common descent, except when they know that the organisms did not share a common ancestor, in which case homology is evidence of convergent evolution. When an organism ceases to leave fossils in the geological record, this is said to be evidence of its extinction, yet “living fossils” like the Coelecanth anf the Wolemi pine are admitted to leave absolutely no fossil traces over alleged millions of years despite their living existence in the present. Polystrate fossils, extending over several strata which would normally be interpreted as several long ages, are admitted as evidence of geologically quick, catastrophic processes, yet such layers elsewhere sans polystrates are unquestionably regarded as evidence of long ages. And so on and so forth.

Being so painfully aware of the problems with the all-natural story of the cosmos, you can probably appreciate how I would want to rid my own fictional work of plot holes and other crimes against fiction.

Johnny Came Home deals with the flaws of evolution, the superior interpretation of Biblical Creation and the evils of racism, wrapped in an action-packed superhero epic full of surprises, humor, mech suits, flying saucers, hover crafts, zombies, clones and epic battles – all from a Biblical worldview! If you’re interested in this book’s progress, Like us on our Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/johnlazarusbook.