Thursday, January 29, 2009

Encountering Alien Life: Leaps of Faith

Part II of our focus on Leaps of Faith looks at another aspect of science fiction: encountering alien life.

Of course, the whole concept of Christian novelists including aliens or sentient non-humans (that/ who aren't later discovered to be demons) in their fiction is controversial.

Just last week the topic was discussed at Speculative Faith: E. Stephen Burnett summarizes the arguments around the existence of extra-terrestrial life, as related to Christian belief, and concludes: Thus, any speculation outside of Scripture needs to be clearly disclaimed for what it is. But I would argue that even Christians speculating — even in fiction — must conform to God’s Word.

Given that many Christians agree that scripture based- and Biblical based-logic argues against the existence of aliens or Christian non-sentient beings, the concepts explored in several of the stories in Leaps of Faith appear controversial.

In “Lost Rythar,” evangelists seek to bring the Word of God to long-forgotten human colonies. (Colleen Drippé)

In “Sometimes We Lie,” evangelism takes a bizarre turn when a native-born being tries to spread an ancient human faith. (Barton Paul Levenson)

Fr. Wren wonders if a sentient tree-creature can marry into the Catholic Faith in “The Convert.” (Susanne Marie Knight)

Fr. Travener faces persecution by ministering to sentient androids in “Comprehending It Not.” (Cherith Baldry)

Why not read these stories for yourself before dismissing the possibility that Christian fiction can speculate about sentient non-human life and conform to God's word?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, aliens are one of the four taboos that Christian SF inherited from Christian Apocalyptic:

1) NO aliens (unless they're DEMONS in disguise)

2) NO semi-human genetic constructs (unless evil or unnatural abomination)

3) NO futures more than Twenty Minutes Into the Future (because The Ende Is Nygh)

4) NO settings off Earth itself (because if we go offworld, Christ won't be able to Rapture us)

These four started as cross-contamination from Christian Apocalyptic, itself locked into the Darbyite Pre-trib Rapture timeline a la Left Behind. It leads to a narrow, shrunken SF without a sense of wonder, only dogma.

TWCP Authors said...

Is this why SF has a difficult time in the Christian market?

I don't have a good handle on why speculating in Christian fiction is a bad thing.

So many Christians seem to fear science and by extension view science fiction with fear.

Why?

Is their faith so weak that they are afraid that their beliefs could be proven false?

Scripture doesn't talk about alien races. Does that mean they can't exist?

The Bible is truthful but not exhaustive.

Does this mean we can't speculate about aliens in fiction? Rather than be afraid of SF, Christians should embrace and enjoy the universe around us with/ through the intellect, creativity and talents God has given us.

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Anonymous said...

So many Christians seem to fear science and by extension view science fiction with fear. -- TWCP

These days, a lot of "Bible-Believing Christianity" is actually FEAR Christianity, all about fear. Fear of Hell, fear of Satan, fear of demons, fear of The End, fear of "secular" contamination, fear of Harry Potter, fear of everything outside the four walls of their church, fear of fill-in-the-blank, until they become poster boys for superstition and Carl Sagan's Demon-haunted World.

Is their faith so weak that they are afraid that their beliefs could be proven false? -- TWCP

According to one friend of mine, YES. He sees Young Earth Creation Science, Ark-ology, to-the-minute End Time Prophecy freakouts, and all the similar stuff as Christians being so terrified that they could be wrong that they are desperate for any absolute proof -- anything -- that they can rub in everybody else's face to Prove I Was Right All Along.

It's a lot like how one Witch-hunter during the Thirty Years' War defined his witch-burnings:

"There MUST be Witches. If no Witches, then no Devil. If no Devil, then no God."

Scripture doesn't talk about alien races. Does that mean they can't exist? -- TWCP

My church's official position on aliens is that We Do Not Know. The Bible doesn't say there are, and doesn't say there are not.

A lot of Christians say NO (SCRIPTURE SCRIPTURE SCRIPTURE) because of the fear mentioned above. The Cosmos is a big scary place, so they retreat to a 6013-year-old, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Punyverse and shut the lid behind them.

Sue Dent said...

I'd sort of like to quit seeing the label Christian thrown around when describing a very specific fraction of Christians.

I'm a Christian and always have been one yet I've no problem whatsoever with Science or Sci-Fi in my fiction. The Christians who do have problems in that area do not represent all Christians, not by any stretch of the imagination. Or even the majority for that matter. They do seem to be loud though.