January 26, 2008


The Third Gospel of SF is that Jesus was the founder of an Earth-based religion that will disappear when we leave the planet. Two of the best-known proponents of this viewpoint are Isaac Asimov and Anne McCaffrey.

Asimov is generally acknowledged to be one of the three most influential SF writers in the world (Clarke and Heinlein are the other two). He is an avowed atheist: “I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.” (http://www.adherents.com/people/pa/Isaac_Asimov.html)
As an atheist, the worlds he created: The Foundation books, the Robot books and dozens of others, (along with 1600 science fact articles) left Jesus behind on Earth as “human religion”. As an apostle of the Fourth Gospel of SF, his influence is far-reaching even today, sixteen years after his death.

In a 1994 letter, I asked SF writer and creator of the multivolume, incredibly popular DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN® series (over 21,000,000 copies of her books on the shelves of the English-speaking world), “Pern has a noticeable absence of the religious traditions of present-day Earth. Does this absence reflect a belief that Humans will outgrow such trappings?” She replied, “The absence of religion on Pern was deliberate…The need to blame a superior being for the vicissitudes of life might help the ignorant and untutored but I do not wish to be counted in that number. Nor will I impose my value judgments on others…therefore I leave religion off Pern!”

Theology – or lack of theology – bashing isn’t my forte, so I’ll leave that to someone who knows theology better. My biggest qualm is and always has been the size of the platform from which the Four Gospels of SF are proclaimed. Psalm 71 says it best: “They have set their mouth above the heavens and their tongue parades through all the earth.” At any rate, for the sake of my beliefs and for the high probability that several in the SF community will find them irritating, I’d just like to point out that it’s impossible to leave Jesus behind on Earth – no matter how much we want to.

2 Peter 3:8 says, “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” Based on this and other verses, I believe that God is outside of time and does not experience it in a linear way as we do. Because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30), Jesus is the same way – outside of time.

Because He is outside of time, He is most likely outside of space as well because, according to contemporary physics: “In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single construct called the space-time continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space being three-dimensional and time playing the role of the fourth dimension.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime)

Now, let’s see if I can explain my belief clearly:

a) Jesus stepped into linear time and lived for 33 years on Earth in a linear fashion

b) Jesus performed miracles on Earth, taught, was crucified, died and was buried on Earth

c) He went to hell, returned to heaven and then rose from the grave on Earth, defeating sin and reclaiming Humans as His children

d) While doing all of this, He remained both fully human and fully God and as God, He was outside of time

e) Given what I believe, Jesus was God, outside of time and space

f) Outside of time and space, He exists, so that when we go into space, we will find it impossible to “leave Jesus behind” -- because he's already there.

…and as much as I love to hear my own voice, that’s all I can think of to say on the topic!

WRITING ADVICE: Educating For Dollars

Every year or so, I get a call from someone who wants me to do some educational writing for them. This could be anything from Sunday School curriculum to writing test items for the Minnesota Department of Education. As well, I've been called on to read test items for a teacher certification exam and evaluate them and I've written political Opinion Essays discussing educational issues.

All of these have come with a satisfyingly large paycheck!

The key here is to LET IT BE KNOWN THAT YOU ARE AVAILABLE! It helps that I am a veteran teacher -- but when I started educational writing, I wasn't a veteran. A friend of mine was called by the Science Museum of Minnesota because someone had heard that he could write a sentence or two. He was busy and referred them to me. They took me and the end result was that I received the Science Museum of Minnesota's Teacher of the Year award, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC and a chance to actually, really meet with the (surprisingly short!) Paul Wellstone.

Another key is to write whatever you have the opportunity to write -- don't be picky. Writing is writing and you have the internet and children's books to research any topic that you don't know much about.

Lastly: Let it be known that you are not picky!

January 21, 2008

WRITING ADVICE: Writing LONGER Short Stories

First of all, sorry for the delay in posting! Semester I Finals (writing, grading and entering into the computer) took precedence as did my son studying for and passing both his National Registry Emergency Medical Technician exam (I was the "study buddy") and his driver's licence test (practice partner).

So, my flash of information or insight on short stories?

These are what I have the most experience writing. Literally hundreds of the things live on hard drives, as hard copy in folders and on old-fashioned disks. And what have I learned? Reflecting on that in church yesterday while letting my mind wander before the worship began, I realized that the short stories of mine that have gotten published have always Said Something in a quiet and subtle way.

This led to the sudden terrifying thought that there might be NO way to intentionally craft a story! I KNOW that the stories I've written in which I've TRIED to Say Something come across as heavy-handed polemics. What if the only way I can write publishable fiction is if I DON'T try to Say Something? What if I can only write good fiction when I'm not trying?


I'll take a lesson here from my favourite writer, C.S. Lewis. In the essay, "Christian Apologetics" in GOD IN THE DOCK, he says, "What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more books by Christians on other subjects with their Christianity latent." I AM a Christian, my faith should be latent in every story. I understand that and let the Holy Spirit work through me.

But applying this paradigm more broadly, I might say that when I try to Say Something, I should instead allow it to say itself; to be hidden; to be LATENT.

Looking at my published work, I find that the pieces I've had published were stories where I didn't force the issue.

In the matrix of PLAIN GOOD STORYTELLING, I have to let the message speak softly for itself.

January 4, 2008


The Third Gospel of SF is the belief that Humanity will someday become MORE than Human – we will transcend or “go beyond” Human. Numerous writers have shared this belief with readers:

In Isaac Asimov’s short story "The Last Question", Humanity merges its collective consciousness with its own creation: an all-powerful cosmic computer. In CHILDHOOD’S END, by Arthur C. Clarke, the destiny of humanity merges with some cosmic intelligence. In Poul Anderson's HARVEST OF STARS, an oppresive government justifies itself by its commitment to take humanity to the Omega Point. George Zebrowski wrote three novellas called THE OMEGA POINT TRILOGY. In HYPERION CANTOS, Dan Simmons used the Omega Point extensively. More recently, in DARWINIA, a novel by Robert Charles Wilson, the story is actually part of a virtual war inside an Omega Point computer. In TOMORROW AND TOMORROW, Charles Sheffield's main character finds that the only hope of saving his wife is for him to wait for the Omega Point.

Frank Herbert’s novel GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE, creates Paul Muad’Dib, once the human son of Duke Leto Atreides, who has become a god: “You must remember that I have at my internal demand every expertise known to our history. This is the fund of energy I draw upon when I address the mentality of war. To those who dare ask why I behave as I do, I say: With my memories, I can do nothing else. I am not a coward and once I was human. -The Stolen Journals” (http://www.nightsolo.net/dune/god.html).

My contention here is that we don’t need science to become “transhuman”. We don’t need to “transcend” Humanity through an Omega Point or anything else. The entire Third Gospel of SF is an attempt to “do it ourselves” because…well, because we’re a “do it ourselves” kind of people. It’s as if we’re trying to justify being stuck at a two-year-old stage of development and refuse to admit it. We refuse to believe that God already made us to be beyond Human. (Psalm 8:5 “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (KJV)) It was through Adam’s representative choice (there’s that “original sin” thing again! (I know that people don’t like the idea of original sin and I’ve looked at the arguments, but nothing I’ve seen or heard yet has persuaded me to drop the notion. Why is original sin such a hard concept to accept by people who live in a republic and regularly elect others to do things in their name – that they don’t agree with?)) Two-year-olds often stomp their feet and cry out, “Me do it!”

The newest entry into our search for transcendence comes in the form of the Kurzweil Singularity: "The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity." (http://singularity.com/)

God provided a means for us to transcend our fallen state – through the person of Jesus Christ. Through Him, we can leave the imporfect behind and return to perfection. By accepting His offer of representation before the Father, our relationship with God can be restored to what it was at Creation.

No Omega Point is needed: “a term used by Tulane University professor of mathematics and physics Frank J. Tipler…his Omega Point Theory, as the universe comes to an end at a singularity in a particular form of the Big Crunch, the computational capacity of the universe is capable of increasing at a sufficient rate that this computation rate is accelerating exponentially faster than the time running out…this theory requires that the current known laws of physics are true descriptions of reality, and it requires there be intelligent civilizations in existence at the appropriate time to exploit the computational capacity of such an environment. Tipler identifies this final singularity and its state of infinite information capacity with God.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_point_(Tipler))

No Kurzweil Singularity. No technology to “enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives. In other words, we want people to be better than well.” (http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/index/) Living for 3500 years and experiencing war for that long. Transhumanism is not what Humanity needs to move to the next level. But we continue to seek in ANY other way: “People of faith are increasingly entering into dialogue with human enhancement advocates about the theological significance of the transhumanist project. So the IEET will be launching the Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.” (http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/michael/blog/?m=200703)

What we need is what God provided 2000 years ago – a Savior, who IS Christ the Lord.