Science and Faith
Some folks keep trying to separate science and faith. Like they are totally exclusive of each other. I don’t find them so exclusive, myself.
Science helps us understand the world, and the universe our world moves through. It helps us with the “What.” Faith helps us understand ourselves, our relationship to each other and our creator, God. It helps us with the “Why.” Together, science and faith allow us to make sense of who we are and what we’re doing here.
Science alone cannot explain everything about our world, our universe, or why things are the way they are. Some science ends up as guesswork based on sound principles and scientific method. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. It often takes years of research, analysis, and testing theory, to come up with explanations of what things are.
Faith alone cannot resolve all our questions about why we’re here, what it all means, and what is our relationship with God. Much as we struggle with the questions and ideas, we fall short of a perfect understanding. And, there is nothing wrong with that. We’re human. We are not perfect. Faith is knowing that we cannot perfectly understand everything, and rest on our trust in God.
How does one reconcile these two things? For me, it boils down to accepting that God created the universe. The universe is infinite, fascinating, and full of things we cannot yet understand. Since God created it, God is infinite, fascinating, and we cannot fully understand him. Trying to box God into a human frame of reference to explain physical events in our world or universe demonstrates our extremely limited understanding of God. Just as trying to prove or disprove God’s existence using science is an exercise in futility, not to mention that God created all the tools you would use.
Christian Science Fiction
So, I can write a story or novel about humans and interstellar exploration and still have a Christian theme to it. No problem. So, we have Christian Science Fiction. As with any good science fiction, science is the main story point even though we have to possibly “suspend belief” on one scientific point to make it all work. Christianity isn’t a point to suspend belief. The suspension of belief normally involves the type of drive capable of getting the characters from point A to point B in the universe. Warp speed, hyper-drive, jump drive, or any number of other methods of travel to bypass the mind-numbing distances and time required to move people around in space are the usual suspects.
With the mode of travel aside, the rest of the story can focus on: the science of growing Earth-like food on a new planet; human survival on a planet with no Van Allen belt; social patterns to support the colony; even sharing the Christian story with an alien species in a first encounter. The last one depends on your take on God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and just how far God went in the plan of salvation. All that without going too far afield of the basic doctrine.
Outside of our little corner of the universe, we know very little. Are there other civilizations or are we alone.
Isaac Asimov’s approach, especially in the robot novels, had humans alone in the universe. Though he was an avowed atheist, Asimov’s universe model makes for a simpler approach to the salvation plan. This opens up story opportunities for missions to human colonies that have fallen away, or social-governance structures on colonies or empires.
Robert Heinlein’s universe was full of other civilizations, some antagonistic to us (Starship Troopers), and some so advanced that they “twisted” troublesome worlds out of the current reality (Have Space Suit, Will Travel). This kind of universe model offers some challenging story opportunities for a Christian Science Fiction writer. Just don’t hurt yourself thinking of the complications.
It Can be Good
As in the post last week, Can Christian Science Fiction be good? Get the Christian part integrated into the character’s role and world view. Get the science right. Keep the suspend belief limited to one thing, like hyper-drive. Also, social science, political science, governance of a colony, can all be important elements of a story. Science doesn’t just mean math, chemistry, physics.
I’m sure there are many folks out there who will poke holes in my thoughts here. Fine. Feel free. So long as it gets you thinking, examining, challenging. When it comes to Christian Science Fiction, that’s what it should do.