Monday, July 12, 2010

Science Fiction from a Christian Worldview

My name is Victor Travison, and I have been a Christian for more than 45 years. During that time, I have learned almost as much about science fiction as I have about the Bible. The first is fiction, while the other is fact, and my final authority. My blog, Lightwalker’s View, is meant to be a lighthearted look at sci-fi and fantasy, mostly on TV and in the movies. These are the media which introduced me to the genre, the ones I can most readily access, but the thoughts I present can also be applied to books and other media.

My interest in science fiction started with Lost in Space, followed by Star Trek—two divergent series, to be sure, but I enjoyed both of them on their own merits. What passed as science fiction before almost always included some sort of monster. For a child and preteen, those images are hard to manage without having frequent nightmares. In trying to apply what I learned about the Bible to this genre, I began to discover marked differences.

As I grew older, especially as an adult, I became disturbed not only by the differences, but by the attitudes of some who shared my interest in sci-fi. I’ve learned non-Christians have an opposite view of the world than we do, and most of the sci-fi I saw reflected it. I looked for and found some Christian messages in the genre, but they tended to be isolated and nebulous. Then I discovered even some Christians who like science fiction have adopted the same opposing worldview.

This is why I wrote Savage Worlds, started my website, and maintain my blog. Through it, I’m not saying, “Because such-and-such is not true, or real, you should not enjoy science fiction stories about it.” I myself enjoy a lot of SF that’s either theologically off or not theological at all. I like Lost in Space, even though it can be scientifically abysmal in places. I like Star Trek, even though the emphasis on evolution means some stories could not be told without it. I like Battlestar Galactica (the classic one), even though the theology behind it doesn’t track. And on and on it goes.

What I am saying is, “Enjoy the stories as fantasies only, as one man’s perception of how things are. Never define your own reality by them.” That’s hard, because often a popular notion is held out as absolute truth, even though it’s entirely fiction. When the same item is handled the same way by various writers, one tends to believe it as truth without thinking twice about it. Some people just are not geared to go research everything they hear. Even Scripture can get a makeover from its true meaning when believers automatically read existential or evolutionary concepts into it, thereby generating belief in a half-truth.

This is the problem I seek to stave off in Lightwalker’s View. This is also why I’ve written science fiction of my own, which places God in a more prominent role than the average secular variety. In the blog, I explain things that trouble me about certain concepts. It’s not so much criticizing as it is explaining how I feel. You may or may not agree; it’s entirely between you and the Lord.

Paul told the Romans, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:12-13). I’m trying to remove the stumbling blocks. I’ve made up my mind, you must make up yours, so long as there’s peace between you and our God.

However, there are at least five areas which, based on biblical standards, I find work against a living, dynamic faith. These I generally reject, even in fantasies, namely: 1) blatant sensuality, 2) cursing and vulgar language, 3) excessive violence, 4) clear Occultic themes, and 5) macabre images. If the plot is reasonable and the items seem to fit the action, I can accept these somewhat, but I’m talking about extremes. Sometimes elements in a story can appear to be Occultic when it’s really a fantasy version of it, such as the alien powers of telekinesis or shape-shifting. Sometimes grossness grows naturally out of a situation, such as when Han Solo sliced open a tauntaun and let its guts spill out, or the significant scene of Episode VI in Jabba the Hutt’s lair. But the more of these they put into a story, especially where they’re not needed, the less I will condone it.

I hope this helps explain why I say what I say. I don’t intend to be harsh, nor do I intend to condemn anyone for their viewing or reading choices. I simply want to present a perspective which, perhaps, hasn’t come to mind before. My prayer is that those who agree will find confirmation in my words, and those who don’t would have something new to think about. God bless you all.

Victor Travison is the author of Savage Worlds and The Justice Coalition. He writes from his home in the Denver area. You can visit his website here.


Victor Travison said...

Thank you, Liberty, for hosting me. Since the links to my books don't work, I'd like to provide them now. The Justice Coalition and Savage Worlds are available on Amazon. Also, my website, including Lightwalker's View, is

Linda Yezak said...

Good post, Victor. It's true, modern sci-fi has gone over the top in many ways. Frankly, I haven't watched much of it since the first Star Wars movie came out.

Good for you for seeking--and finding--a way to keep your principles in your writing!

Liberty Speidel said...

Victor--sorry about those links! I've fixed them, and added a link to your site. (I've been doing this for a while--you'd think I'd be able to get it right by now!)

Linda--thanks for stopping in! Sci-fi can be good, but you have to be selective about what you watch/read. Even some of the "over-the-top" stuff has good things that can teach to us writers, and that seems to be what I look for more than anything these days.

Nona King said...

:) As a fellow Christian who is also a lover of sci-fi/fantasy, I commend you on this excellent post!

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