Science and Faith

Science and Faith

Science and Faith | Guy L. PaceSome 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.

Keep writing.

 

 

 

Faith

Faith

“Faith, I can move the mountain” — Hillsong

One reviewer of Sudden Mission commented on how young the protagonists were and how ready they were to take on the tasks and challenges. The reviewer was skeptical.

I don’t usually respond to a reviewer, other than to thank them. And, really, I’m not responding to or criticizing the reviewer here. The comments just got me thinking, and George Michael’s hit song lyrics started playing in my head. I didn’t quote those for my own reasons, but I’ve often told reading audiences that Sudden Mission is about faith.

Yes, there is spiritual warfare, action and adventure, a dash of science fiction and fantasy, an angel, aliens, zombies, and other things in Sudden Mission. And, yes, the characters are young. But fourteen isn’t too young to have strong faith, or to face difficult trials.

I struggled with character age when I started planning the book. Older teens would have required more difficult, grittier challenges. Younger protagonists, in this setting, would have been just too weird. I remember being fourteen. It just seemed a good fit. A fourteen-year-old, with strong faith, strong family and community, and good friends, just seemed right. Some of that is foreign to me, so I had to do some exploration.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a Christian conversion story. Granted, the characters grew and changed, but they were already believers and faithful. Faith gets tested in several places and the characters come close to failing. Paul, the main character, is constantly challenged.

“I can’t. I have a mission.” Paul felt frustration and discomfort. He was sleepy and wanted nothing more than to just curl up and sleep.

“Are you certain?” The coyote sat on his haunches and his tongue lolled out of his open mouth. “What? Did you dream of an angel coming to you with a message? You don’t really believe you are on a mission from God, do you?”

Bound to a compelling mission and his family held hostage, Paul struggles. His friends, Amy and Joe, act to support him. Paul, in return, supports them when their spirits flag.

“I wish one of us could drive,” Amy said. She wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees. “How about bicycles?”

“Yeah, lets see,” Paul said opening the map. “We have more than eighteen hundred miles left to go. I don’t think I’m up for trying to do that on a bicycle.”

“We still have eighteen hundred miles?” Joe said.

“Yep,” Paul said. “Still, we’ve gone more than five hundred miles just on our good looks.”

Amy laughed. Joe looked disgusted.

At that age, faith is a tough thing to keep. So the three amigos boost each other and help move the story along, even through tragedy.

I might have made one character a foil instead of a friend, and I thought about that in the beginning. But at the age chosen, a foil could have ended the mission too early and too easily. The story had enough conflict and struggle as it was.

The struggle and character development stayed in Paul’s point of view (PoV). Some reviewers commented on Amy and Joe’s limited development as a result. I did experiment in early drafts with bouncing around PoVs and it was a mess. I stuck with Paul. I tried to stay honest about that, though. Paul, in Sudden Mission, is fourteen. A fourteen-year-old boy isn’t necessarily insightful about others or himself, and the internal monologue is more simple and direct.

This is important, as Paul matures and we see things again through his eyes in Nasty Leftovers. Then, in the third novel, we’ll see things from Amy’s point of view and she has a more robust internal monologue. Honest. I read some romance to see how it was done. I think I have it, now.

So, okay. Ya gotta have faith.

Keep writing.

(Note: This is outside of my usual, arbitrary Tuesday posting day. I may have another short post next week, or wait until the next Tuesday. Life is pretty full right now.)

 

Paid

Reality is just setting in, now. Got an email and went online to accept payment for my first published short story. Thank you, Neo-Opsis!

For the first time, I can say I’m an author who earned money from a story I wrote. That’s not saying I’m a pro, compared to SFWA’s definition of a pro. But, for me, this is quite an achievement.

I’ve been paid as a newspaperman, for a column in a journal (a small stipend), and some piece work over my lifetime. But, this is my first commercial story sale.

It has been years in coming. New Kid survived a number of submissions and rejections. But, I had faith in it and I kept sending it out. It found a home!

Never get discouraged and never give up.

Keep writing.