The Bible and science fiction

A Christian Science perspective.

The Bible and a science fiction novel may look like an odd choice of reading on your night table. But maybe not. 

In the Bible, Jesus’ ministry continually showed evidence of his other-worldly powers before anyone ever heard of telekinesis, the ability to move solid objects through time and space. Jesus was like the Invisible Man to a mob trying to harm him (see John 8:59). He read minds, passed through closed doors, met with long-dead prophets, spoke to Saul of Tarsus as a blinding light from heaven, and predicted the future, including his own death and resurrection. 

He foresaw that Peter, his disciple, would deny him three times (see Matthew 26:34, 69-74), and that one of his 12 disciples would betray him. All came to pass. Jesus said, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29).

The Master not only raised the dead, he walked on a windblown sea to a ship; and when he climbed aboard, “immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:21).

One can see how the Bible may have given creative impulse to the science fiction genre. John Milton’s epic English poem, “Paradise Lost,” with its dreadful images and warring angels, was perhaps literature’s first work of science fiction. Some call the Bible “a science fiction novel.”

Take Ezekiel’s eerie account of strange creatures appearing amid flashes of lightning in what he described as heavenly wheels. This imagery may sound like a UFO sighting of aliens in flying saucers (see Ezekiel 1:14, 15).

Ray Bradbury, the late author of such science fiction classics as “The Martian Chronicles” and “Fahrenheit 451,” told his biographer, Sam Weller, that a science fiction writer “is at play in the fields of the Lord.”

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, saw what looked like Jesus’ remarkable manipulation of matter as neither fiction nor fanciful belief. Instead, she said it demonstrated his understanding of spiritual reality and his God-given dominion over earthly laws of physics. In her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote: “When sufficiently advanced in Science to be in harmony with the truth of being, men become seers and prophets involuntarily, controlled not by demons, spirits, or demigods, but by the one Spirit. It is the prerogative of the ever-present, divine Mind, and of thought which is in rapport with this Mind, to know the past, the present, and the future .... yea, to reach the range of fetterless Mind” (p. 84).

She also wrote, “Human philosophy, ethics, and superstition afford no demonstrable divine Principle by which mortals can escape from sin...” (p. 99). The ultimate scientific fact is that God, good, is the only Mind that exists. This Mind does not misunderstand itself. It is neither feeble nor faint, and the man of God’s making is its highest expression.

Christianity’s early opposition was fueled by animistic belief – life in inanimate objects. The mystery of unexplained things was attributed to evil or mischievous spirits. The prophet Isaiah said, “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God?” (8:19).

Eddy answers, “If [Christian] Science has been thoroughly learned and properly digested, we can know the truth more accurately than the astronomer can read the stars or calculate an eclipse. This Mind-reading is the opposite of clairvoyance. It is the illumination of the spiritual understanding which demonstrates the capacity of Soul, not of material sense. This Soul-sense comes to the human mind when the latter yields to the divine Mind” (Science and Health, pp. 84-85).

It’s demonstrable science. And spiritual fact trumps science fiction.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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