February 26, 2012

Slice of PIE: Spiritualists, Materialists and Science Fiction, Oh, MY!

Just finished reading the following article: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/25/my-take-stop-sugarcoating-the-bible/?hpt=hp_c1 and loved it. Thought-provoking, intelligent and it rang true in my spiritualist head.

There were, of course comments below. Some of them were downright rude -- and came from opposite sides of the "belief spectrum". Reading them, I found that, I’m starting to resent that my faith has spawned individuals who loudly claim to either speak God’s truth or have brought His word to us (for example: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/harry_potter_is_of_the_devil.htm ).

The loud claims however, were balanced by a number of atheists were interested in little else but pulling up a soapbox, standing on it and having a bit of a rant.

Which led me to an entirely different place: how do Humans develop our metaphysical philosophies?

Everyone’s got one and they appear to me to range from “God personally told me...” to “There is absolutely, positively nothing that exists that we cannot see or test for”. For brevity, I’m going to assign these polar viewpoints the labels spiritualist and materialist and then note how I think they connect to science fiction. The middle ground for these two points of view...hmmm...I don’t know if there IS a middle ground.


Spiritualists assign life occurences a God factor – everything from the mundane, “My truck won’t start because God didn’t want me to go to Bill’s and get the morning paper” to the profane, “My wife must have sinned grievously against God in order for her to get breast cancer, so why bother with treatment?”

Materialists assign life occurences a causality factor – everything from the mundane, “I’m having a crappy day because I didn’t take my vitamins and exercises” to the profane, “This is the third time my body rejected the transplant but I want to live so I’ll stay on dialysis until we find the perfect kidney.”

Intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with either lifestyle. It’s a free world (though that’s not exactly true)…all right, “It’s a free country” (though that’s not exactly true, either [if you doubt me on this one, go here: http://itemp.org/humantrafficking101/internationalroutes.html]). OK, so maybe there might be something intrinsically wrong with the two edges of the spectrum.

What does that have to do with SF?

Humans respond to life occurences in different ways – some choose God, some choose no god. In writers, that response -- their metaphysical philosophy -- comes out in their writing. Based only on my observations, there appear to be more materialists than there are spiritualists in the science fiction field. There appear to be differences in how the philosophies are applied as well.

The differences do not mean that materialists can’t play around in the spiritualist field as Carl Sagan, Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Sawyer and Frank Herbert did in Contact, Stranger In A Strange Land, Calculating God and Dune (though you could ostensibly argue that none of them played with ANYTHING spiritualist and that all were looking at materialist evolution in their books. I’ll leave such hair-splitting to another time.)

It does seem that spiritualists aren’t as welcome to play in the materialist world – though spiritualists may have chosen to create their own playground rather than join the materialists in theirs. I’ve written about this in the past and been roundly chastised as well because a premise of the materialist world has seemed to be that “everyone’s opinion is valid, except for the ones we don’t like” – which see: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2007/09/is-overtly-christian-science-fiction.html
 , http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/02/jesus-and-discoverchurchcommarshtml_11.html
 , http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/02/jesus-and-discoverchurchcommarshtml_11.html
 . There are others, but you get the drift.

For me, it's ALIENS where the materialist viewpoint stumbles badly. It appears that materialists resort to a spiritualist explanation of the world that involves aliens. There is NO evidence for aliens anywhere. But there IS a firm belief that there are aliens. This metaphysical spiritualist philosophy is articulated when Carl Sagan has his character Ellie Arroway say: “‘I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right?’”.

Some materialists will insist it has nothing to do with a spiritualist thought process: a rock solid belief in something that has no evidence is, by definition a spiritualist world view.

Why is it OK to believe in aliens and not God? Why is it OK for a materialist to promulgate fantasy in books that postulate “alien life forms” when there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of alien life forms and not OK for a spiritualist to promulgate characters who have a profound belief in God?

*sigh* I’m sure I’ll find someone willing to answer that question – I just hope they stay on the ground and off the soapbox, help me down from my soapbox (what is a blog if not a soapbox, eh?) and discuss this without epithets and rancor!

Image: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3042/2777520991_8e532b5390.jpg

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