Sunday, September 14, 2008


A friend who blogs tells me I'm a little stiff in my blogging. I guess I have to choose between being George Orwell and Ann Coulter. That is, am I writing for posterity or for entertainment? Is there a happy medium? Or does she drink? I have my own voice when I write poetry . . . which took quite a bit of writing to develop. I'll just have to keep journalling for my imaginary audience and see what happens. I just watched a trailer for The Day the Earth Stood Still. The new version is coming out in December. Speaking of stiffs, Keanu Reeves plays the emissary from wherever. My son, Tom, who is a good actor, tells me Reeves is a stiff and can't act. I think he just underplays. There are so many people out there chewing on the scenery that subtlety seems foreign. Besides, you can't argue with megabucks.

Stiffs aside, is it possible to be Christian and get into science fiction? I started reading sf and fantasy when I was 12. I have always had a soft spot for the stuff. My father, and others, told me it was a soft spot in my head. By the time I was 17, I had over a thousand paperbacks and magazines, all sf (please don't use the abomination "sci-fi"). I was a science-fiction nerd. I am going to advance the notion that science fiction and Christianity are antithetical (is that the sound of sawing I hear behind me?). Here's why: Sf is predicated on the premise that Man is perfectable, that he has what he needs within him to solve his problems. Science is man's savior; progress is nearly infinite. Evolution is a fact. Christianity teaches us that God created us--and the world--in a state of perfection, but that we are rebellious, hence fallen. He gave us free will, so we could choose Him, or rely on our own efforts to overcome our problems, our fallen nature. God created the universe and all living things in it; we have not evolved but have actually regressed from our initial perfection. Only relationship with Him can save us. So, I have problems with the underlying ethos of science fiction, no matter how much I love the stuff. Fantasy is a different matter. Some of it is, indeed, non-Christian--paganism is so much more fun. Tolkien wrote from a Christian perspective, though The Lord of the Rings has some strange elements in it. At least it's not anti-Christian. I love it. I'm looking forward to The Hobbit flicks. Remember, we were created ex nihilo!


Jon said...

I said you were stiff, but I also said that you've already discovered the cure for stiffness. Please don't try and write like anybody but yourself. I have some thoughts on Christianity and SF, but it's too early for that. Let me go back to sleep and dream on them. I'll try and post something later.

Thomas said...

No fear, my dad has never been one to communicate in any fashion other than his own. In that I am confident.

In my view, science fiction is not antithetical to Christianity. The conclusions that the scientific method have made about the nature of the universe can not have any effect on faith. Faith has nothing to do with science. Placing faith in any scientific ideas is the seed of much inaccuracy, and trying to find physical evidence of the spiritual is demonstrably foolish, time and again. I hold both of those ideas as tenets that have no loopholes, and I regard the Institute for Christian Research as seekers of loopholes.
However impressive the feats of science may be, will simply demonstrate even more the order and beauty of the natural world.

Jon said...

Well, Hi Thomas. What I've been saying for a while: Just because science makes a really bad religion, that doesn't mean that religion makes for very good science. But, that's not really my point. First off, CS Lewis wrote some pretty good science fiction. Second of all, Dan, there's all of this weird post modern SF out there. I don't believe that all of those myths of progress, perfectability and evolution are essential elements of SF. Those are the myths of technocracy and they are embodied in the persona of the heroic engineer- hero of so many Heinlein novels.

Now that we're all postmodern (and it's about time too!) Science Fiction is about THE FUTURE, whatever it might bring. I've been reading all kinds of queer, feminist, post colonial etc. SF that simply explores the question, "Where will we be in the future?"

I'll have to admit,I consider it a reach to call Mormons Christians, but Orson Scott Card has been asking a Mormon version of that question for some time now. If Nalo Hopkinson can write good readable Afro-Canadian-queer-feminist SF I can't think of any reason why an equally clever Christian couldn't write good readable Christian science fiction.

Oh, I suppose you could point out that most of the postmodern SF is explicitly ant-Christian. I don't think that's because the genre is somehow anti-Christian by it's nature. It's because most of the postmodernists are from fringe groups who have, on the whole, not been given a very good deal by the mainstream of Christianity. Christianity's origin appeal was to marginal people and I can't think of any theological reason why a good Christian writer couldn't use SF to speak to the margins again.

Thomas said...

Hey Jon. Yeah, there's actually a big symposium on religion and science being held by Skeptic Magazine Oct 3-4 at Cal Tech, if either of you feel like spending $200 to appear at a fancy event, and listen to the likes of William Phillips. Actually, from what I've read, I think I'd like to hear Lorenzo Albacete speak. He sounds fun.
It is impossible to say how many scientists believe in God. First of all, I don't know if it is possible to get a tally of scientists (especially that everyone can agree on). Also, there are many brands of faith. However, one poll from 1997 came up with 40% of scientists believing in God.
Definitely, the thing to do is just to write something. I would not even be concerned about whether or not I was writing speculative fiction.

Salve said...

All I have to say is having taken a few film acting classes from a lady who has studied from the highest quality and best-known acting coaches in hollywood, is that I have a little more respect for Keanu Reeves. The method that he uses is encouraged among screen actors. I just do not think that he takes on many roles that vary from his other ones. He needs to expand his repetoire.