Republibot is *not* a religious site, however as sites like IO9 and The Friendly Atheist and a zillion others have pointed out, there are several Christian groups trying to crack in to the whole “Science Fiction” thing with books and movies and TV shows and whatnot. Most of these commentators are aghast at the concept, and a few of them are frankly apoplectic about it. That kind of reaction always seems like a fertile ground for discussion. I’m a little afraid that our normal band of commentators may be of too similar a mind on this subject - we’re all basically believers here, and boring white protestants - so I’ve taken the liberty of inviting “Doubting Thomas,“ a conservative Republican atheist to join our circle today. Tom, thanks for being with us.
Thank you for inviting me to participate. I've always enjoyed science fiction, especially the early short stories that explored how new technologies might be employed and how people's lives would be changed by them. For me science fiction should challenge us and explore possible futures and hopefully allow us to be better prepared for the actual future.
We’ve I’ve also invited Ovadiah David, who’s Jewish and politically liberal. Thanks for taking part in the discussion today, we really appreciate it!
My pleasure. Thanks for including me
Question number one:
Is Christian Science Fiction even possible? I don’t want to get in to an argument about definitions of what is and isn’t SF here, so just for sake of argument let’s just assume (For once) that we’re talking about what is the normal aliens/spaceships/time travel/nonexistent-but-plausible technology school of SF. We’re not talking about Narnia here. With that in mind: Is Christian SF possible? Why or why not?
Absolutely and Christianity has been influencing science fiction from the start. I think rather than past examples, what you are looking for is "can a good story be created with a Christian theme and scientific theme simultaneously" and it certainly can. However, it won't come from someone with a strict fundamentalist view that a static world was created 6,000 of Bishop Usher's years ago. Progress is inherent in science fiction and in the good stuff there is a bit of moral dilemma in how the progress is applied. Christianity is very much at home dealing with these dilemmas, even if I personally don't like all of the conclusions that are reached.
My all-time favorite work of fiction is That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, which I would classify as science fiction. As to whether it’s possible, I can think of no Biblical prohibition against fiction (or parables), and, therefore, no prohibition against science fiction. Sure, a work of science fiction that is written by a Christian may posit some ideas I don’t agree with from a Christian standpoint. So I’ll disagree with them. The great advantage, I have always argued, of any work that disagrees with my worldview is that it will either (A) make me change my worldview or (B) make me give my worldview more thought so I can respond intelligently to whatever it was I disagreed with. Science fiction and fantasy are great formats for proposing ideas—better than westerns or a lot of other fiction which assumes a basis in “the real world” that sci-fi isn’t always bound by.
Absolutely. At it's root, S-F is about answering the question "If this goes on...?" In other words, taking a trend and extrapolating it out to some point in the future. This was also (with Divine aid) the function of prophets- they "got it right" a lot more than S-F authors, but the idea of the cautionary message regarding future implications of present trends is VERY Biblical. Let's say for the sake of the roundtable that a Christian wrote a story that said something like "All this abortion may have unexpected consequences in the future" and he had aliens perform some sort of sanction on Earth for making the gene pool shallow. That's Science Fiction (extrapolation, Aliens, global catastrophe), AND it's a parable (because it's a story with a crunchy moral center). Voila- Christian S-F. Anyone know where I can read a story like that?
[Laughing] Uhm, yeah, that’s pretty much exactly my story, “Dog Days.” (Here: http://republibot.com/content/original-fiction-dog-days ) I don’t think we can call that one Christian SF, though I really really make fun of organized religion in it, and I’ve even got a preacher as a bad guy…and my point with writing it wasn’t to espouse one