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> tracki n g s p i r i t u a l t r e n d s i n t h e 2 1s t ce n t u r y
V O L U M E 1 8 : 1 ( 1,1 3 7 ) / J A N U A R Y 3 , 2 0 1 3

In this issue:
in the same way”
FICTION - Sci-fi “always treats free will

+ Science fiction as a platform for
philosophical secularism

+ When crime fiction “undercuts the
fantasy of sexual liberation”

Publisher: Apologia • www.apologia.org Contact: ar.feedback(at)apologia.org Post Office Box 7112 Pueblo, CO 81007 Phone: (719) 225-3467 Editor: Rich Poll Contributing Editor: Paul Carden
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FICTION “Sci-fi, Free Will, and the Problem of Evil” by Clay Jones <clayjones.net> — begins by explaining that “many years ago I ... struggled with what free will is all about, but found an unlikely ally in science fiction. Sci-fi books, movies, and television programs frequently feature free will as a major theme and thus help illumine this abstract topic. ... “In science fiction, free will is always portrayed as extremely valuable and essential to being human. In fact, sci-fi always glorifies the fight to preserve free will at any cost. “Plotlines involving human creations gaining free will go in one of two directions. In one plotline, the creation rebels against the creator to rule humans. ... “In the other plotline, humans create androids that gain free will, but these creations rightly rebel because their creators are unjust.” Jones gives numerous examples for the two plotlines. “In [a number of] films, the creation of a computer that somehow obtains free will results in rebellion against its creator who it regards as a threat that needs to be enslaved or destroyed. Humans then spend the rest of the movie trying to destroy the computer. This resonates with us because it echoes the sweep of biblical history: God creates man but man uses his free will to rebel against God and seeks to destroy Him. Unlike most sci-fi, however, God seeks to restore relationship with His rebellious creations. ... “The ultimate lesson in [other films] is that free will is preferable even in the face of suffering.” In fact, the scenario has yet to be invented in which “humans would be better off without free will. ... “Another plot device involves humans replacing or removing other humans whose use of free will displeases them.” In the end, “these sci-fi plotlines rightfully depict that humans often would rather not put up with other people’s free will. After all, beings with free will can be troublesome (or worse!), but doesn’t this also speak to the greatness of God that He patiently endures His creation’s rebellion? ... “After all, if Christianity is true, then God did create free beings, both angels

and humans, so it would make sense that our very nature would resonate with creation’s ultimate metanarrative. It is no surprise, then, that these plots would recognize that free will is valuable; essential to being human; worth fighting for; and even though it causes hardship, suffering, and grief, it is still preferable to a blissful existence that excludes being able to make significant moral choices. In these ways science fiction helps explain what life is about.” And, as the contents page adds, “these fantastic stories have great utility for illustrating to nonbelievers why a world where evil could never occur might not be the best of all possible worlds.” Christian Research Journal, 35:5 2102, pp50-55.6 Given that last line from Jones, consider the words of Nick DiChario as he reviews science fiction (SF) works in Philosophy Now7 magazine (Jul/Aug ‘12, pp42-43). “Many of my favorite SF authors actively embrace philosophy in their novels.... “ In fact, he writes, “some colleges [are] now offering Philosophy through Science Fiction courses.” Long ago, in his book A Case of Conscience,1 SF author James Blish created a world absent of sin as a “backdrop to explore some interesting philosophical questions: Is God (or religion) absolutely necessary to develop a moral society? As well as original sin, did God grant us creativity, and can one exist without the other? Does science corrupt innocence (or is that religion’s job)? Does one culture or society have a right to impose its will upon another, and if so, under what conditions? What happens to those people when it’s done? And, in the greater scheme of things, do any of these questions matter, when the guy who owns the biggest bombs still holds sway? Anyone following current events in the Middle East will find these questions as relevant today as they were when Blish published his novel more than fifty years ago.” Philip K. Dick “remains popular because he poses philosophical questons that are timeless and continue to resonate with young people: cries of personal identity, persecution and alienation, paranoia (often justified),
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with no emotional connection. As fewer and fewer acts are considered genuinely wrong.org> 7 . 2009. These books [and most likely many others — RP] are.” Ordway describes the moral tension found in Larsson’s opposition to sexual trafficking and violence against women in contrast to the portrayal of his characters having “sexual relationships purely for physical pleasure. 434 pages) <www. nationalism or political philospphy in general.” Ordway adds that “one of the side effects of the cultural shift of the past fifty years is the constriction and deformation of the mystery genre. unrestrained by traditional biblical morality or the bounds of marriage. by Ryan Nichols.1 3 7 ) / J A N U A R Y 3 .org/htm/subscribe.ly/gqAjw> SOURCES: Periodicals 6 . Given the endorsement of acting on one’s own sexual desires. in some ways.2102. but the novel isn’t so much about the debate itself as much as about the people who debate.ow.” Another author DiChario likes is Marcos Donnelly.philosophynow.Letters From the Flesh. DiChario recommends Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. Sawyer. by James Blish (Del Rey. “Although [the main characters] seem to be presented in the books as liberated and healthy.. 192 pages) <www. <www. et al. popular mysteries and thrillers pro- APOLOGIAreport vide a useful litmus test for what behavior is still considered transgressive and what has been accepted as normal. by Stieg Larsson (Vintage. the books undermine Larsson’s moral vision in a disturbing way.ow.ly/gqyca> 2 . . whose Letters From the Flesh2 “follows the apostle Paul of Tarsus.ow. paperback..” Ordway stresses that “consent of the participants is not only a very fine line.equip.” and 2): in this genre “readers (no matter what their conscious worldview) count on a moral component that adds significance to the story.. 368 pages) <www.”6 SOURCES: Monographs 1 . a moral core is still necessary for the story.Christian Research Journal (Christian Research Institute).ow.ly/gqyti> 5 . and offers a fine bit of heresy about what might have happened to him on the road to Damascus to change him from the persecutor Saul to the super-Christian Paul (look for some genuinely original alien intervention here).. 2000. whatever they may be. paperback.” DiChario also recommends the works of China Mieville for those interested in SF and “Marxism. by Ryan Nichols.Philosophy Now. Holly Ordway reviews The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 2012. [and] presented as clearly positive. It seems Larsson did not notice the way he undercut his own fantasy of sexual liberation. . the available plot points for an author of a crime novel are reduced. by Stieg Larsson5 in Christian Research Journal (35:5 .A Case of Conscience. by Susan Schneider. org> Apologia Report is available free of charge and sent to you once a week via email. from the ‘evil’ sexual behavior of the villains is the consent of the participants. “The books themselves do not acknowledge the inconsistency and ultimate bankruptcy of the worldview that they present. <www. Nicholas D. collectivism. paperback.ow. by Marcos Donnelly (R. canaries in V O L U M E 1 8 : 1 ( 1.ly/gqynZ> 4 . as noted above.ly/gqyid> 3 . Smith and Fred Miller (Routledge. ‘sexually liberated’ character could slide over into behavior that even Larsson condemns as evil.. Why do people believe in God? Why do people believe in science? Why do some of us defend our faiths.. go to: http://apologia.. it is very easy to see how a good. [Donnelly’s] writing is alive with clever jousting around the creationist debate. these Swedish novels give a glimpse of the challenges that America may face in the future. “Since marriage and biblical sexual ethics are irrelevant in this worldview. but they are a valuable source of insight for apologists who must address these issues. paperback.J.htm Search back issues at: www. Subscribe now to this valuable resource! To subscribe online. 2 0 1 3 the coal mine.4 Still on a roll here. the story at least hints that the reality is far more disturbing. in sharp contrast to the abusive relationships that are so strongly condemned in the books. 1878 pages) <www. 2006.Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence.Philosophy Through Science Fiction: A Coursebook with Readings.3 and Philosophy Through Science Fiction: A Coursebook with Readings. pp28-32) making two interesting observations: 1): “The genre of crime fiction (or mystery) is by nature aligned with a theistic worldview.com/archive-apologia . However.tinyurl. but one that is far more unstable than people may want to admit.. since Europe is significantly further along in the post-Christian secularization process. by Susan Schneider (Wiley-Blackwell. 256 pages) <www. paperback.The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) (The Girl Who Played with Fire) (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). with such extreme fanaticism? And why do others just not care?” In his conclusion.FICTION (continued) and distrust of authority and the government. As a result.. 2008. the only thing that differentiates the ‘good’ sexual behavior . As a result.

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