In the process of doing research for a pending project — Christian Sci-Fi: On the Compatibility of Biblical Worldview and the Science Fiction Genre — I have interviewed several novelist friends about that subject. Why is science fiction written by Christians so sparse? Is science fiction inherently incompatible with a biblical worldview? One of the authors who agreed to discuss the subject was Kerry Nietz, Kerry’s written over a half-dozen novels. The first in his Dark Trench series, A Star Curiously Singing, won the Readers Favorite Gold Medal Award for Christian Science Fiction and has over a hundred 5-star reviews on Amazon. Here’s a few of the questions I lobbed Kerry’s way about the intersection of Christian storytelling and the sci-fi genre.
MIKE: Thanks for addressing this topic, Kerry! Some Christians avoid SF on the grounds that it is built on atheistic/materialistic premises, deifies Man/human ingenuity, and promotes relativism, pantheism, transhumanism, etc. How would you counter the suggestion that SF, as a genre, is incompatible with a biblical worldview and that Christians should avoid it or, at the least, read with caution?
KERRY: To start where you ended, I think Christians should read everything with caution—even Christian fiction. In fact, perhaps more attention should be given to literature that claims to be Christian, than literature that doesn’t. No better way to sneak in false theology than under the guise of truth, is there?
That said, I can understand why Christians would be suspicious of science fiction. There are certainly writers in the genre that promote all the things you mention and more. I also know that I’ve been a science fiction reader and fan since childhood. (Which is also when I became a Christian!) SF has presented challenges to my faith at times, sure, but also has encouraged and reinforced it. My earliest memories are of stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ray Bradbury. I never felt my faith attacked or belittled by their works, and they were great imagination expanders. They fully exercised the power of “What if?”
Science and technology belong to Christians as much as anyone, so why not the fiction that delves into their uses and effects?
I don’t find Science Fiction inherently incompatible with a Biblical worldview. No one mandated that it be that way. (Though I’ve heard that some publishing houses now try.) Science and technology belong to Christians as much as anyone, so why not the fiction that delves into their uses and effects?
MIKE: What aspects of the SF genre most resonate or align with a biblical worldview?
KERRY: A large part of Science Fiction is cautionary. Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is a perfect example. Who can forget the line spoken by Ian Malcolm, the character Jeff Goldblum played in the movie: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The message there is simple: Science is great, but morals and ethics matter more. What could be more in line with a biblical worldview than that? Scripture is replete with examples of similar statements: Think about what you’re doing! Weigh the costs! Seek a higher calling! As early as Genesis 4 we have the Lord saying to Cain: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Ray Bradbury once said “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”
That’s what we as Christians want too. Not more, but better.
MIKE: What is the most compelling reason you think Christian novelists should use the SF genre as a medium for their storytelling?
Just one reason? Wow.
One of the most compelling reasons to use the SF genre is because it speaks to where our culture is right now. Many of the bestselling series and highest grossing films—from Arrival, to Hunger Games, to the X-men—are science fiction. We’re a culture immersed in possibilities and questions. Why shouldn’t Christians be presenting possibilities and answers of our own? I think people will listen if we aren’t lazy about it.
Crafting science fiction requires more than imagination. It demands a working knowledge of science and culture. Two common misconceptions of Christians are that they a) have disconnected their brain, and b) are at war with science. What better way to show the world we’re not those things than by crafting a plausible and well researched science fiction story?
That’s one thing I delight in with my books—and why they sometimes take longer to write than I might like. I love to pull in actual science where it applies. To give small Astronomy or Physics lessons, or dig into how a biological system might work, even if they are typically non-scientific systems like vampires or zombies.
At the end of the day I hope even the secular reader can say “I may not agree with his message, but I can’t fault his writing or his research. That guy knows his stuff.”
You can connect with Kerry Nietz on his website or his other social media platforms.