I just started writing a science fiction novel. With writing in a new genre comes research and new things begin to stand out more than normal. Many times, I come across either memes on social media or blog posts declaring that a person or group “believes in science.” I find this to be rather odd.
I’ve never read about, met, or otherwise known of anyone who doesn’t believe in the process of coming up with a hypothesis and testing it to see if the results are not only possible but repeatable. Despite what some may think, I am not sure there are many worldviews that are actively against believing in such processes. Of course, I’m not an idiot and know that this declaration is meant to counter what the scientific community’s stances are on evolution and climate change. More accurately, “I believe in science!” is a statement that has baggage which indirectly is sometimes used to discredit “religious” beliefs. Not always, but it is true rather often.
As a Christian who accepts the scientific findings, I am all too aware that the culture that surrounds my faith is known for rejecting things that appear painfully obvious to those who do not adhere to Christianity. I would argue that such an instance isn’t about rejecting science, but instead scientists’ findings and claims. Those who announce their love for science claim those who do not fully accept climate change and evolution to be real fail to understand or believe science at all. Those on the receiving side of those arguments say that there are things science cannot answer and can and has been wrong before. “Religious” folks do not see it as rejecting science as a process. Many of them believe science supports other ideas than what are mainstream. Instead they reject common belief due to worldviews and that history has shown that scientists have been wrong before. Do I as a Christian agree with this position? Not entirely. Yes, scientific consensus has been wrong in the past and until more information comes to light we might find out that is the case now as well. That is the nature and beauty of science. However, where I disagree is to use that as a catch all to simply justify preconceptions and therefore reject an idea even when heaps upon heaps of evidence, peer reviews, and testable evidence support a theory.
This topic ties into my previous blog post about truth. People believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is given. One must not only be open-minded but have a worldview that doesn’t crumble simply because something is uncomfortable. This is true on all matters, not just heavy topics like climate change. Another thing that would help would be for both believers and non-believers to acknowledge that science and faith are not incompatible. Certainly, they are if either are layered with presuppositions, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Ultimately, believing in science does not equate believing in scientific claims. The process and the results are different. Political and religious worldviews shape how we interpret these claims. I would argue both political sides ignore important scientific truths. The reality is we must do our best to curb our natural human bias with discernment. This is possible, but a difficult endeavor.
In my last post I touched on my journey reconciling writing and reading fantasy while being a Christian. There is so much more that could be said on this topic. It is true that many Christians do not have a problem with Fantasy as a genre, and many enjoy it just as much as I do. Yet, there is a culture and expectation amongst certain circles that one should not engage in it. Certainly, this isn’t a topic worth being a martyr over, but it is worth exploring deeper.
The first thing we should get out of the way is that the Bible has been used to justify or condemn every sort of behavior imaginable. This leads to anything from judgmental Pharisee-like attitudes to downright destructive behaviors. The condemnation of Fantasy comes from the Bible speaking out against magic users and sorcerers, and the call for us believers to use good judgement and discernment when it comes to our entertainment. Not a bad intention. On top of that there are those who have more sensitive consciences, which makes it difficult for them to comprehend why someone would enjoy something that appears so “evil” to them.
Putting blanket rules around entertainment is difficult for these reasons. Often times people read into Scripture their presuppositions and try to impose them on others. I understand that, especially since believers are called to rebuke fellow Christians if they are not following God’s commands. However, it is easy to take it too far and become judgmental over things that ultimately do not matter such as enjoying a specific genre of books.
There is something important to note. Most of the time magic and sorcery in fantasy does not even closely resemble occult/pagan magic condemned in Scripture. Magic in ancient times often took the form of astrology and divination or summoning spirits. Fantasy magic such as in Harry Potter is invented as a plot device and for fun. Fiction authors don’t pretend their works are real either which is something that distinguishes itself from true occultism. We are told right away these stories are fake and meant to teach lessons of friendship, love, and what it means to be human among other things.
As believers it is our job to discern what entertainment we consume. Instead of cherry-picking Scripture to back up our biases, we need to look at the Bible in its entirety. Yes, sorcery is condemned in Scripture, but Paul also makes it clear that different people are sensitive to different things. Our only job as believers is to not create a stumbling block, not reign judgment upon other people.
We hear about open-mindedness a lot in our culture. It is often viewed as a good thing, a virtue even. Those who adhere to traditional values on the other hand are viewed as the antonym of open-minded, and the enemy of diversity. While that certainly can be true, open-mindedness, like everything else must be tempered.
Being open to ideas, experiences, and other people’s beliefs is a generally a good thing. In a society that is so divided, a little more of that would do wonders to bring about healing. Not all ideas are equal. Some view all religions, political beliefs, and philosophies to be the same. If only people would understand that, then there would be peace, right? Not exactly. Many belief systems are destructive, and because we are human, even the good and true ones often get warped.
A balance should be struck between the hardened skeptic and the hippy that believes anything goes. Listening to people is always important, but that doesn’t mean their ideas are valid, in fact they might be very toxic to society. How much toxicity have we allowed into our culture for the sake of being “open-minded?” That is a question the reader will have to answer for him or herself. I certainly do not have the answer, but with all the dystopian media I have consumed along with the insane ideas now peddled as truth, I cannot help but wonder if fiction is closer to reality than I had thought.