Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

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…)

Recently, I was entering a store and a overheard the following exchange between a young girl and her little sister.

“Do you know what a redneck is?” the older sister asked.

The younger girl didn’t even hesitate. “That’s a racist, right?”

I wrote Johnny Came Home to explore a possible world where super powers were explained within a Biblical creationist worldview rather than by an evolutionary POV as is common in most comic books these days. I chose Appalachia as the setting for my novel because you write what you know… and I’m an Appalachian American!

I knew I’d have to tackle some issues concerning the origins debate within the novel. As I wrote it, the issue of evolution’s relationship to racism kept coming up – and not just because the story is set in Appalachia.

You see, evolution is by its very nature a racist theory. I’m not saying that everyone who beleives in microbes-to-man evolution is a racist, but rather that the theory itself is inherently racist. Even the late Stephen Jay Gould, an ardent evolutionist Marxist, admitted that:

“Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Belknap-Harvard Press, pp. 127–128, 1977.

Gould himself was vehemently against racism, but he admitted that evolutionary theory could readily be used as a justification for racism. This is because evolution teaches that some people groups are simply less evolved than others, that some are closer to animals than others. While the Bible has been used as a justification for racism, people have to twist Scripture and take verses out-of-context in order to make the Bible fit their prejudices; evolutionary theory on the other hand is pretty much consistent with racist ideals, especially if one views evolution as progress.

In Johnny Came Home, some of the super-powered characters have decided that they are the next stage of human evolution. The following, an exchange between the book’s villain and our protagonist, illustrates how such beliefs play out in our actions:

“You’re denying your destiny.”

Johnny was pretty sure he’d just been handed a veiled ultimatum, but he simply couldn’t buy her argument. “What destiny? Do you think you’ll actually win? Better yet, do you think you’re actually better than people without these powers? I mean, look at what you do with them,” he pointed out. “These powers certainly don’t make you morally superior or wiser; they just make you stronger than the next guy, so it’s really just might makes right.”

“Or survival of the fittest.”

“Yeah, I recall that Hitler had ideas like yours, and your racism is just as wrong as his was.” The conclusion that evolution was an inherently racist theory had never occurred to him until he spoke those words. No, he didn’t think that everyone who affirmed evolution was a racist, but the theory itself implied that some people groups were just more evolved than others. Johnny recalled that his father used to mention a man named Ota Benga, a pygmy who was once on displayed in the Bronx Zoo’s monkey house because men believed that people with darker skin were more ape than human. It was no longer politically or socially acceptable to voice such racist opinions, but no matter how you sliced it evolution still implied that some men were less evolved than others.

Pandora’s voice dripped with condescension. “Oh, that’s right. Pull the race card.”

He ignored her attempt to sideline his point. “Hitler used ideas like master races and survival of the fittest to justify the Holocaust and Germany’s bid for world domination. I don’t see how you’re any different. If anyone’s pulling the race card, it’s you.”

God willing, Johnny Came Home will see publication this Summer 2012! In the meantime, stay up-to-date on our progress on Facebook at http://facebook.com/johnlazarusbook