May 29, 2011

WRITING ADVICE: Mike Duran #9 – Why Science Fiction Embraces Religion but Science Doesn’t

I have never seen Mike Duran. We “met” online a couple years ago because of a little…altercation I caused by saying something less-than-nice about Christian speculative fiction on his blog. Mike, being both a specfic writer and editor, won me closer to his side with gentle and wise words. Since then I’ve found that Mike has lots of gentle and wise words. I’m looking at how some of them have had an impact on my own writing in these WRITING ADVICE posts. (Quotes are used with his permission.) He also participates in “ONE OF WRITER'S DIGEST 101 MOST VALUABLE WEBSITES FOR WRITERS, 2008 & 2010”, NOVEL JOURNEY at The original article for THIS entry is here:

I believe that science with an insistence on the near-certain probability of extraterrestrial life and Christianity with an insistence on the near-certain probability of salvation through Christ alone; have more in common than either would dare acknowledge.

I have been a science teacher in public middle and high schools for 32 years in programs for the gifted, English Language Learners and special education students. I have taught sciences quite literally, from astronomy to zoology.

I majored in biology at a public university in Minnesota.

I have been reading science fiction since I was 12.

I am a science geek who has a subscription to POPULAR SCIENCE and who regularly reads online SCIENCE NEWS and SCIENCE NEWS FOR KIDS (so I can understand new concepts and ideas before I read more). I occasionally read SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and I sometimes skim through patents on GOOGLE PATENT (I’ll bet you didn’t even know there was such a site!) to see what people are trying to invent.

I am a moderately intelligent person.

I am also a Christian.

For decades, I have exposed myself to people who say things like, “I love that they have the [science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction] Convention on Easter weekend – it keeps the Christians away!” and “People like you murdered my people for no reason but that they were different,” and was regularly required to show a movie called Galileo: The Challenge of Reason (in this movie, the Church is the enemy, ruthlessly crushing Galileo’s astronomical discoveries and his heliocentric theory of the Solar System; it briefly mentions that the Church is a proponent of Aristotelian natural philosophy and holds his theories to be truth. What it covers up, intentionally obscures and ignores is that at the time of Galileo, Aristotle’s view of the universe was good science and the viewpoint held by most scientists – not just the Church, for a clip. It depicts old, arrogant clergy and a wise, amusing, young and dashing Galileo. Of course.)

I believe I am qualified to comment on the state of “religion and science”.

With a science fiction short story involving a Mormon missionary the winner of the 2011 Nebula (science fiction’s Academy Award) and on the 2011 Hugo ballot (science fiction’s Emmy); with the overwhelmingly Zen Buddhist philosophy of the DUNE books; with the flaying of the Catholic Church in the SAFEHOLD series; I think that science fiction has less interest in “religion” than it has a consuming interest in promoting anything that isn’t Christianity. This has gone so far as a science fiction writer who created a philosophy called Dianetics that led to a religion Scientology.

Mike Duran asks, “But whether it’s Lucas’ Force or Avatar’s Eywa, Dune’s messiah or E.T.’s transcendent aliens, science fiction has boldly explored the divine. Which leads me to this question: Why is it that while most scientists appear to be agnostic or atheist, so much science fiction employs and embraces religion?and answers himself as well, “…real science has NOT uncovered significant proof of God…”

This is inescapable because God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not provable – our only evidence that Jesus existed has never been argued by historians, nor is it disputed by scientists. What IS disputed is who and what Jesus was and is.

In fact, Scripture isn’t at all interested in proving itself. Hebrews 11:1 states: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” This says nothing about “…by scientific evidence we understand…”.

I know countless people who proclaim that there is no conflict between science and faith.

I believe that they ignore reality.

Faith doesn’t require proof and it DIDN’T require proof – faith isn’t scientific. Experimentation is science and neither Mike Duran nor CERN (French phrase for the disbanded Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) can prove faith.

By the same token, scientists have profound faith in things for which there is absolutely no proof at all.

Ignoring the doctrine of the scientific method that ALL science has to be both provable and the experiments that prove a theory repeatable, most agnostic and atheist scientists have a deep faith in “extraterrestrial life”. Though it is a doctrine of science and a tenet of evolution, thus far, it has absolutely no incontrovertible evidence nor does any scientist or institution exhibit a shred of proof – yet scientists antagonistic to Christianity propound on their deep belief that extraterrestrial life is a virtual certainty. Stephen Hawking who has recently blasted Christianity (as well as Judaism, Islam and any other religion that believes in a god of any sort), has this to say about extraterrestrial life: “…extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low…” (Stephen Hawking, Naked Science: Alien Contact, The National Geographic Channel)

Science fiction writers by writing about aliens in their myriad ways, have created a philosophy of extraterrestrial life; an Aristotelian philosophy, if you will, that brooks no disagreement – because it’s impossible to prove or disprove the existence of intelligent (or UNintelligent) alien life. It is an article of faith.

It’s my belief that science and Christianity have more in common than either would dare admit…


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