Thoughts On Writing Extra-Terrestrial Life: (From A Christian Perspective)

Today, I’m hosting a Q & A interview with, well, myself. Now I agree that it’s more than a little odd—and some might think egotistical—but the only real reason for this is because I’ve found that sometimes, writing in an unconventional format is the easiest way to get ideas onto paper. I rewrote this post three or four times before switching the format and then I finished it in one go without problems.

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One of the biggest personal hurdles I’ve had to jump as a Science Fiction writer, is the question of “Should I write about aliens when I don‘t believe they exist”. Now obviously everybody is going to have their own opinion and answer to that question, but I thought I’d take some time and share my own thoughts on the matter.

SO, WHEN DID THIS WHOLE “THERE IS/ISN’T ALIENS” DEBATE BEGIN?

In my opinion, pretty much ever since man first looked to the sky and asked the question “I wonder if anything lives up there.” I’m sure the person who first asked that question had no idea that it would explode into one of the biggest theological debates thus far, and one that has never really been settled, won, or lost. I’ve always found it humorous—and slightly sobering—that there isn’t really a unified “Yes/No” from either side. Christians say “Yes”, and Christians say “No”, just as non-believers say “Yes”, and non-believers say “No”.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR OPINION, DO YOU THINK ALIENS EXIST?

No, I do not. While the Bible doesn’t explicitly say “aliens don’t Exist,” it’s my belief that the Earth was the only world that God put life on. Obviously, I could be wrong, but you’d think that God would at least mention something as big as life on other planets somewhere in the Bible.

WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS?

For several reasons, the first of which is that God came to earth and died for mankind. So either aliens would have to have never sinned and stayed in an Eden/paradise setting, or be forever damned because of their transgressions. On this theory, I’ve heard arguments that

#1.  Christ’s sacrifice was so powerful it transcended the boundaries of the Earth and touched every single world/alien culture.

#2.  After Christ died here on earth He packed up and went to other alien cultures to become a sacrifice for their race.

Without limiting God—after all, nothing is impossible for God—It’s my opinion that the above theories are unlikely, and that we’re the whole-deal.

My second reason is, as I’ve already mentioned, there’s no account of alien life in the Bible. Alien life is BIG. Honestly, “is there someone out there” is one of the biggest questions that man has dared to ask. You’d think that God would have mentioned it in his account of Creation found in Genesis.

DOES YOUR BELIEFS ABOUT ALIENS IMPACT YOUR WRITING AT ALL?

All the time. I’m primarily a Science Fiction writer and let’s face it; aliens are part of what makes Science Fiction so fantastical, the great big question of “What If”. But, at the same time, I like my creations to have a “Christian” influence, and “Christian” and “Aliens” don’t exactly go hand in hand! I mean how in the world do you combine faith with aliens? So say one of your characters explain Christianity to an alien culture and an alien wants to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, what then? You’re stuck with two alternatives,

#1.  You say, “Hey, you know what, I’m really sorry but Christ only died for humans, so you aliens pretty much missed the bus. Sorry about that.”

#2.  You try to explain how a sacrifice made on earth for humanity alone extends across the galaxy and influences alien races.

In my opinion, you’ve shot yourself in the foot either way. To use option one, makes Christians seem as “Salvation-hoarders”, keeping God’s eternal life to ourselves and refusing to share. But to use option two involves stretching what the Bible says, which goes against Christianity itself.

The only other options of eliminating the conflict are:

#1.  A Science Fiction novel WITH ALIENS, but WITHOUT CHRISTIAN FAITH.

#2.  A Science Fiction novel WITH CHRISTIAN FAITH, but WITHOUT ALIENS.

 DO YOU THINK IT’S WRONG TO WRITE ABOUT ALIENS, KNOWING THEY DON’T EXIST?

Not really. Personally, I don’t believe there’ anything inherently “Wrong” or “sinful” about aliens. Obviously, yes they are a purely secular creation, but I don’t think that anyone is going to hell because they choose to believe in, write about, or read books, or watch movies that have aliens in them. Do they exist? No, but let’s face it, most everything people write about doesn’t exist in some way or another. If everybody only wrote about what “existed” there would be a whole lot less books, and most of them would be pretty boring.

Personally, I like aliens. I like science fiction that has aliens. Books and movies over the years have come up with some pretty cool looking alien races. Really, the main and defining reason that I don’t write about aliens, is because I haven’t come up with a way to write a story that interweaves my faith, and alien cultures. Since I can’t have both, my faith always comes first, thus I have to pick Christianity over alien-life.

If you can find a way to blend Aliens and Christianity together in a way that doesn’t alter what the Bible says, and stays true to your faith, I’d say go for it!

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO INTERWEAVE THE TWO?

Several years ago I tried finding a way, but even after dozens of different attempts—even resorting to a “Narnia” like tale where it’s another world/dimension—I was unable to.  Somebody else thou, maybe with more experience in the writing and theology field might be able to pull it off. The closest I have ever come is with an interesting work-around, that sidesteps the issue, while still staying true to my faith, and at the same time allowing me to add an alien-ish element to my works.

WHAT KIND OF WORK AROUND?

Most of the time when I write science-fiction, it’s set very far off into the distant future. The reason I do this is because my method of sidestepping the whole “alien” debate needs some time to be even mildly realistic. For the sake of explanation, I’ll use a breakdown of my “aliens” within my own current in-work novel:

#1.  A race of advanced human attempt to play God and create hundreds of human hybrids via advanced nanotechnology that can rewrite, combine and alter DNA.

#2.  After several centuries, the advanced race dies off, leaving the hybrids scattered across a hundred different worlds, all across the galaxy. Each Hybrid subspecies are free to reproduce and expand their “Race” as well as develop their own language, and customs.

#3.  Come along three thousand years into their future, where the story takes place, and viola, I have a galaxy populated by hundreds of different “Alien” races.

The beauty of this system is that I can have the human hybrids crossed with whatever I want.

Maybe a Human + Wolf = Werewolf like hybrid, or a Human + fish=Aquatic-Hybrid, or Human + bird=Avian-Hybrid, or Human + Monkey=Primate-Hybrid. Regardless of what the Hybrid turns out to be, or what it looks like, the most important piece is that at some base DNA level all my “aliens” are still “human” because of their ancestry. Thus they are still under the shadow of the Cross and what transpired there.

When I write “aliens”, this is how I do it. But I still think there’s a lot to be said for Humanity only Science Fiction works.

SO, DOES YOUR SCIENCE FICTION WRITINGS LACK THE “FANTASTICAL” ELEMENT WITHOUT ALIEN LIFE?

I’d like to say no. There are a lot of ways to include “fantastical” elements without needed to include aliens. Advanced technology, good prose, good world building, good dialogue and good characters all can add that “fantastical” element.

Sometimes I’ve often wondered if writers and moviemakers don’t flash some out-of-this-world looking alien in our face to distract us from the fact that their story wasn’t as well thought out as they thought, or that their prose, and dialogue was found wanting.

Though, in all fairness there are movies and books that have all of the above, as well as out-of-this-world aliens.

DO OTHER WRITER’S SHARE YOUR VIEWPOINT?

I’m sure some do, and some don’t. But, honestly I’ve never really asked.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR BEGINNER WRITERS, WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THE SAME DEBATE?

Ultimately, the question of wither you feel right about writing about aliens with a Christian perspective, or without a Christian perspective is going to have to be a question that everybody asks themselves, and weighs against their own beliefs.

If you’re struggling with the same issue, you’re welcome to use my work-around, or even tweak it as much as you want. The best advice I can give is pray about it, and no matter what, don’t compromise your faith.

* * *


What’s your opinion? What’s your take on the “Are We Alone” question? Do you have a way of sidestepping the debate? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc (Cropped)

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One thought on “Thoughts On Writing Extra-Terrestrial Life: (From A Christian Perspective)

  1. Pingback: Highlights of the Year: 2014 | The Never Ending Path

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