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Vance Kessler

Christian Science Fiction Barriers

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I love writing Christian Science Fiction, but there are some serious obstacles in that genre. I am curious. What do you see as the biggest hurdle to get past in writing Christian SiFi?

 

For me, the biggest hurdle was that I wanted to write about life on other planets but had to do so in a way that honored this passage:

 

Romans 6:10 - The death he died, he died to sin once for all (NIV)

 

If Jesus only died once, what would that mean for life on other planets? Would they be left on their own until we reached them to share the Gospel with them or does it mean it is impossible for life on other planets? Personally, I think this verse means that we are alone in the universe, but it doesn't have to mean that. Any hey, that's what fiction is for: playing out possibilities.

 

I found an intriguing way to honor that verse and allow my characters to visit other planets where they discover intelligent life, but it was a challenge.

 

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That of course assumes that human sin on one planet affected everything in the universe. Some Medieval theologians believed the curse that came after Adam sinned didn’t affect anything beyond the moon’s orbit. The Christian author C. S. Lewis used this idea in his Space Trilogy, which is fine reading for anyone interested in Sci Fi from a Christian perspective. 

 

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I’m a Christian who writes mainstream sci-fi for middle-grade and YA. 
I would say that Rom 6:10 would be a key verse to navigate if you wanted an evangelistic theme or a Christian non-humanoid alien. 
If there is sentient life on other planets (big “if” imo), I think God might reach out to them in dreams and visions as he has done to Muslims in hard to evangelize areas, rather than waiting millennia for us to reach them. “...not willing that any should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV

According to Herodotus’ Histories, ancient peoples believed that God, who was above all the other gods, spoke through dreams. 
Again I believe we are the only unique life in the universe, but it is interesting to write about life on other planets. 

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Sorry, I didn't post ALL the implications or possibilities of Rom 6:10. That would have required a much longer post (Hmmm, giving me an idea for a blog post though).

 

@Zee, yes, one possibility is that the sin of Adam and Eve was limited to earth. However, that gives us 2 possibilities for life on other planets and their condition if we encounter them: they have not sinned or they have sinned. If they haven't sinned, encountering sinful mankind would be a bad thing, and they would probably sin shortly after meeting us. Could make for an interesting plot (e.g., Perelandra). If they have sinned and the death of 'our' Jesus on Earth doesn't apply to them, then did He have to die AGAIN on their planet, or do they have another means for forgiveness (I don't think that is an option Biblically)? If His death does apply, is mankind the first to share the Gospel with them? Or as @SpecFictionGuy said, do they know about Jesus through some form of spiritual communication?

 

Rom 6:10 is an obstacle, but there are several possible solutions.

 

P.S., I enjoyed Lewis trilogy, but it has been a while since I read it.

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@zx1ninja You have something to say about this!

 

I write SciFi, but not aliens. Humans are all I can handle. 

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Posted (edited)

What? I heard my name.  

 

Okay my personal belief is that there may be  aliens on other worlds. Simply because God is all powerful, all knowing and nothing is beyond His ability. Am I sure they are out there? No, but I refuse to limit God.

 

We however are the pinicle of God's creation as we are the last thing He created before He rested and we are the only thing made in His image. That puts us in a special place for sure.

 

So, could aliens be saved? I think the answer is yes. 

 

Would Jesus have to die again? No, once for all. 

 

So could they receive The grace of God by believing in Jesus? Again I will not limit God, so based on the command to spread the good news I believe the answer is yes.

 

Writing this can be difficult but in the end to show God's grace it's worth the effort to help them understand His nature. 

 

Edited by zx1ninja
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56 minutes ago, Nicola said:

@zx1ninja You have something to say about this!

 

I write SciFi, but not aliens. Humans are all I can handle. 

 

Good point, Nicola! Some great Sci Fi doesn’t even have aliens...

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@zx1ninja, congrats on getting The Jesus Road II released. It sounds interesting.

 

Switching out of fiction mode and back to reality (sorry for verbosity):

 

I totally agree that we should not limit God. Ephesians 3:20 is one of the main things I keep in mind when writing and what helped me to imagine there might be life out there to begin with.

 

Even allowing for that, I feel it is important that our fiction not contradict scripture. As it seems many here do as well.

 

Some think because Genesis Chap 1 doesn’t mention life elsewhere that it can’t exist. I don’t think that has to be the case. The Bible could easily only contain what WE need. Knowing about aliens is not required for finding God. But as you said, He is capable of having created life elsewhere before or after creating us. We cannot limit God with time either.

 

I believe there are passages that indicate we are alone, but if viewed in a more liberal/less traditional way, do not have to mean that. Which allows us to write about the possibility of aliens.

 

So, if there are aliens and Jesus’ sacrifice(s) gives them the ability to receive forgiveness, that raises questions.

  • Are they on their own until we find them after thousands/millions of years with them dying (and going to Hell?) the whole time (assuming everyone sins)?
    • Unlikely that God would be so unloving.
  • Are they living under a substitutional sacrificial system like the Israelites?
    • That is an option.
    • Will we find them before Jesus returns to tell them what their sacrifices are a substitution for?
    • Could they be told in some other way about Jesus?
    • Could Jesus return and collect the souls of one planet at a time?
  • Did Jesus also appear to them and die on their planet too?
    • This would mean that “He died to sin once for all” would really mean, “He died to sin once for all on each planet containing life.”

I can think of no other options that are Biblically sound. If you can, please share. Again, these are real options and not possible fictional plots. Though that's often the source of great fiction.

 

A sinless planet is possible if you also hold that Adam and Eve’s sin only affected Earth. This would also require that intelligent life could live without committing sin, which I do not think is possible until we are given our perfected resurrection bodies and Satan is dealt with.

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This is one of the reasons I like science fiction, what if. We don't know, but God is all powerful, so what if he did... We'll learn the answer in the end directly from the source. I'm sure it'll be elegantly simple and complex at the same time. 

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I never saw a problem with alien life from a scriptural perspective.  It if exists, so be it.  There will be wonderful opportunities to learn, I think, and expand our knowledge of God's universe.  I think the real question is whether they will be benign or malign.

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17 hours ago, zx1ninja said:

What? I heard my name.  

You did! Spoken with respect and admiration!

 

We serve the God of AND! 

From what I know, after reading The Case for Creation by Lee Stroebel and watching the Elegant Universe by Brian Greene (he is not a believer and all the time, to me he seems to be hitting his head against a glass wall that if he looked closely, he'd see God pressed up close against.), we don't limit God if we say we are alone and we don't limit God if we say we have company. 

 

From a friend's experience, I believe God does not like to repeat Himself. Each individual creature He makes, down to each and every humble amoeba, is different from its mates. Only God could do that! 

 

God gave us His creativity. What if He gave us a blueprint and said, "Oh guys! Go for it! Let's see where your imaginations take us!"?  There might be multiverses out there!  

 

What if aliens are saved the same way leopards and polar bears are?  Just as God used the nation Israel among many nations to work out His plan, perhaps He used one species and one planet among many. In the end, perhaps humans have the questionable dignity of being the only ones who needed to know and accept Christ. We were made rebellious and dull and our acceptance works for everybody. Sounds like Grace to me!

 

In the end, the only one who needs to be satisfied with the plan and the outcome is God. The bigger we imagine Him, the better off we all are. 

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3 minutes ago, Nicola said:

You did! Spoken with respect and admiration!

As it was taken. 

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I like to look at Jesus's own fiction writing as a way to see what He might have in mind for the craft. So, I analyze the parables and see that Jesus made up stories that illustrated points without getting very bogged down in all the implications. Partially sketched out characters fulfilled roles to make points in His stories. The rest of the details were unimportant.

 

Look at the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the "Shrewd" Steward. Jesus uses symbolism and imagery to make points about the nature of the world. He even uses an anti-hero in the "Shrewd" Steward.

 

I think the important thing to keep in mind when writing fiction is what is the BIG MESSAGE of our work? What are we saying is good and bad, moral and immoral, desirable and detestable in this world?

 

Aliens might help you make some of those points, and so I think they're fair game.

 

Of course, I've got an alternate world fantasy series and a LitRPG series going right now, so I'm all for speculative fiction.

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1 hour ago, Nicola said:

In the end, the only one who needs to be satisfied with the plan and the outcome is God. The bigger we imagine Him, the better off we all are. 

 

Beautifully said, Nicola!

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On 7/18/2020 at 4:22 AM, Vance Kessler said:

, congrats on getting The Jesus Road II released. It sounds interesting.

Thank you, but SW is the one who deserves all the credit for that, it's his book. I only provided a short story to go with it.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/17/2020 at 7:44 PM, Nicola said:

I write SciFi, but not aliens. Humans are all I can handle. 

 

There was a tagline to an old '80's sci-fi movie: Outland. "Even in space, the ultimate enemy is man." I used this to model my sci-fi novel. At an early point a character wondered if they were encountering a first-contact situation. Everyone around him snickered.

 

In another novel I handled life on other planets in a very different way. I'd love to share, but it would be a huge spoiler to that book. Maybe @suspensewriter could comment, if you've read it yet. Hey, no pressure. 😄

 

 

 

Edited by Accord64
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I don't see it as a barrier. I see it as an opportunity.

 

What would humanity be like without sin? I don't know and I can't ever know in the course of this life, but the capacity to imagine such a thing is part of God's grace. So a society like a beehive or like solitary eagles? I could make a case for either or for neither. Hunters or grazers? Plants that soak the wisdom of the ages through their roots and bear fruits of knowledge to feed their budlings? Then what if that fruit is poisoned and the great trees try to smother each other in pride?

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If we're talking science, then the reality is that there is ZERO evidence for life on other planets.  We don't have any.  Nothing has been conclusively determined.

 

Is there intelligent alien life?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The question you really have to ask is if said life has a soul.  Dogs, bees, and deer are examples of intelligent life, but Jesus did not come for them - he came for us.  Because we have a soul, and because we were made in the image of God.  Antelopes were not.

 

In the book series I am writing, I touch on this: intelligent life that exists without a soul.  Except, in the series, I'm not talking about aliens, but created life.  Life brought into being outside the sight of God.

 

Intelligent life may exist on other planets, but obviously it has not advanced that much further than we have.  If we were visited by aliens, they obviously didn't have a need to come back where they could be recorded on video.  And if the billions of potential alien civilizations exists as some people claim, none of them - a stunning statistic - thought it worthwhile to show up and say hello.  Not a single one.

 

So, I'm apt to believe that we're sorta alone in a massive Universe.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 

5 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

And if the billions of potential alien civilizations exists as some people claim, none of them - a stunning statistic - thought it worthwhile to show up and say hello.  Not a single one.

 

That we know of. 😉

 

But that's yet another genre. 😄

 

the-x-files-mulder-scully.thumb.jpg.e0e2da20f00356cf44399484bf21721c.jpg

 

 

Edited by Accord64

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