The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Oerken Tree: Christian Writing in the Realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

By: Thomas Clayton Booher

I have always enjoyed science fiction, and more recently, fantasy. I read The Gods of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs as a young lad, and was pleased when Carl Sagan mentioned in Broca’s Brain that he also did at about the same age. He was more erudite than I, however. He later looked back upon it and his youthful fascination was dampened when he realized that it was far more fiction that it was science. His point was that the best science fiction has its roots in scientific fact. His novel, Contact, was written on that premise, and it was a good read.

I tend to agree with him. There are deep wonders in the creation no matter which direction we look in. We can look outward and marvel at the billions of galaxies whose sizes alone are incomprehensible populating a volume of space that is billions of light-years across. Or we can look in the other direction until we encounter subatomic particles that take up only billionths of an inch. There are known facts about these wonders, but there is much which is unknown. Good science fiction speculates on the unknown without becoming unhitched from its factual moorings.

Sagan was involved with SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). He believed along with many other scientists of note that the probability of extra-terrestrial intelligent beings was high for the reason that numbers alone favored it. There are so many worlds and ‘solar systems’ out there that there is bound to be at least one that, like ours, evolved intelligent beings.

Of course, Sagan’s thinking is based on non-biblical premises. Mathematical probability, I think, would favor Sagan and other SETI enthusiasts’ speculations if their fundamental proposition that it all began with a so-called chance explosion of something out of nothing were true (though, what is surmised as ‘nothing’ is really ‘something’ since it has attributes which is impossible for ‘nothing’ to have). Personally, I am not in opposition to a ‘big bang’ theory as long as it is not something that just happened for no apparent reason, that is, as long as its event is not attributed to chance. In the beginning God said, “Light be,” and there was light – that is not a chance event. A Big Explosion? You’re guess is as good as mine, but I probably wouldn’t want to be standing in the wake of it.

For the Christian, who bases his world-and-life view solely on the scriptures, the question of extra-terrestrial beings (excluding angels and demons, and principalities and powers in high places) is speculation as well. However, if the Christian were to speculate, he would have to do so within the bounds of revelation.

This is especially important for the Christian writer of science fiction and fantasy. If he wants to be true to reality as God has revealed for us what that reality is, he will be careful to contour his speculation around that reality, and draw from it speculative conclusions that are not illogical and retain a symmetry and connection with what we know about it (from both natural and special revelation).

Years and years ago, I thought about that. What if there were beings out there? What would they be like?  How would they behave? The answer to those questions has to be rooted in what we know about the state of the universe. Natural revelation reveals the wonders and glory of God in the universe (Psalm 19:1), but it also reveals that the whole creation groans under the curse of Adam’s sin (Rom 8:22 in context). Such extraterrestrials would have to be aware of the curse’s effects. How far and deep would it affect them? Would they be God-haters or God-lovers? If God-haters, was there any redemption? If God-lovers, how do they carry on in a world that is cursed?

All this was in my mind when I began to write The Oerken Leaves (published by Tome Publishing in 2007), the first book in a proposed trilogy called, The Whole Creation Groans. I have since reworked that first book and will soon release it as an e-book under the title, The Oerken Tree. The book is written for youngsters in their early to mid teens though I think it has an appeal to the adult as well. It is a speculative novel on who and what is out there. I hope to write some more about it soon. 

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