The two-fisted science hero lands on Saturn to discover what life may exist there. He notes the foot-tall mushrooms and the stork-like birds. His rifle is ready to fire should he discover any danger. And then he meets a spirit. He discovers this is a departed minister from earth. Among the first questions he asks, “Why did God drive Adam out of the garden and deny him the fruit of the tree of life?”
There’s something disconcerting about that. There’s a disconnect here. A pulpish hero, a man known for action and his reliance on science, asking a specific religious question is almost unsettling. Yet, that’s what just happened in a book I’m reading: A Journey in Other Worlds, by John Jacob Astor. The book was published in 1897, which sets it in a distinctly separate world from our own. Religion still dominated the general climate (though it wasn’t the “pure Christianity” so many dream about when they consider the “good old days”). Science fiction was a far cry from the developed genre we have today. To have a science hero ask a specific religious question would not have been out of the question, because nothing was normal in the genre yet!
This blog was created because Brandon, Mike, and I love science fiction and we love Jesus (not in that order). We love good writing. We want to increase in our ability to write. We want to write science fiction that deals with Christian questions.
But when I ran across Christianity expressed in a science fiction novel when I did not expect it… it didn’t just surprise me. It made me pause and blink and try to figure out what was wrong.
What was wrong? Certainly not the story. The character was still in character, though this revealed a new side of him I hadn’t expected. It’s a bit odd to be mixing something so supernatural (disembodied spirits, not merely “telepathic vision”) with something that had been, until then, a solidly scientific exploration. However, just because someone exists in a “scientific society” doesn’t mean that they don’t have a religious side.
What was wrong was me. I bought the lie.
What lie was that? The thought that reason and religion are mutually exclusive. The idea that science and spirituality go together like broken glass and my stomach. The presupposition that Christianity and cognition fit together like fine wine and the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Here I am, seeking to develop my writing skills, pursuing Christian science fiction. And that’s the problem. I should be seeking to write good science fiction stories that happen to have Christian characters or involve Christian questions.
God promises that his Word will never fail. While humans perish like grass, his Word will endure forever. So, if humans go to the stars, God’s Word will go with them. If we are enslaved by machines of our own making, the Bible will stay with us. If we discover time travel, we still won’t be able to escape his Scriptures; after all, God is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow. Those are the worlds I should write about. I don’t have to write Christian science fiction. I just have to take God at his Word and imagine what might come.
And I need to keep in mind that others can and have done the same thing. So, next time a two-fisted science hero starts positing Christian questions, I won’t be shocked. Instead, I’ll nod and smile and appreciate that other Christians like science fiction, too.