‘Salvation for Other Species’ by Benjaimn T. Collier
Thanks for checking out this series! If this is the first blog you’re reading on ‘Writing Speculative Fiction as a Christian’ then please see my intro on post #1 for context on the reason I’ve put this series together.
Last time we discussed what it means to be human in inter-planetary and even inter-worldly contexts. But writing as a Christian there is one subject that inevitably comes up, and that many Christian writers struggle with…
Has Jesus been to these other worlds?
As with many of these questions, the answer is up to you as the writer of the story. In trying to keep in line with my own theology, I have to ask the question of whether or not Jesus would have a reason to. As a child, fascinated with the idea of aliens, I often wondered if the Christian view of salvation was something that was also available to aliens since they’re not human but are presumably sentient beings who (I would assume) also struggle with evil.
In my younger years I assumed that, if necessary, Jesus would have also incarnated as each alien race and died for their sins as well, just so that everyone was included. When I was a little older I concluded instead that aliens need only hear about Jesus as a human, because most aliens have a low opinion of humans, and so the idea of God humbling Himself enough to take on such a weak form would have caught the attention of every other race regardless.
Now that I’m even older, the idea of Jesus manifesting as other sentient races feels less comfortable with my doctrine, but that still leaves me with the problem of how aliens or beings in fantasy realms could avoid damnation if they haven’t directly encountered Jesus, which leads into the next question.
Is sin and evil a multiversal problem?
To write epic stories, it is pretty much a given that your world will contain some form of struggle between forces of good and forces of evil. At least from a fictional standpoint, evil itself is a pretty multiversal problem. What might not be multiversal though, is the problem of sin. That may sound confusing. The two words are practically synonymous, but there is a subtle difference.
Evil is wrong action, and so is sin, but evil is an issue of choice whereas sin is an issue of nature. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, not good and sin, but that act of disobedience was sin, and through that, sin entered the world and became a part of mankind.
There’s a reason it was in the form of food, because food becomes a part of you. Even more fitting, it was fruit, which typically bears seeds. The seed of sin has been in mankind since that day. It is the inclination toward evil. It’s a vessel for evil. A kind of corruption or disease. Do you get the picture?
The reason I want to get that distinction across is that it’s possible that evil is a multiversal issue without sin being a multiversal issue. The word ‘sin’ means ‘missing the mark.’ It means ‘imperfection.’ The world as a whole fell into sin when those in charge (mankind) allowed sin to enter.
We know it’s possible for angels to fall from grace and commit acts of evil. There is even a passage referring to angels committing sin (2 Peter: 2:4), but no reference to Jesus dying for the sins of angels. Perhaps God has a different solution when it comes to angels, or maybe only the fallen angels sin and so their fate is already sealed. I don’t think the scriptures go into detail on that. We don’t hear about animals ‘sinning’ even though nature itself is in a fallen state.
But other sentient races, though they still face moral dilemmas, may not necessarily have the same problem with sin as humans do. The reason why is also part of what makes us unique compared to other sentient races. As the uniquely assigned bearers of the image of God, there are very specific things at stake when it comes to our living up to our potential or falling from it.
Other races don’t have this problem. The way that evil became a part of us was also very specific in that it set us up for having generational issues and for sin to become a part of the nature of mankind. This means that we as humans struggle with evil differently, in a unique way, compared to how other sentient races might struggle.
Without struggling with sin, can other races still struggle with evil in relatable ways?
Absolutely. In fact I would argue that most writers have already provided plenty of examples of how to do this in your stories. The idea of generational, inherited sin, from a Judeo-Christian perspective is actually a bit complicated to think about. Most writers provide simpler, more universally understandable examples of evil, such as temptation and old, bad habits.
It might feel a bit preschool, but it’s relatable in a way that is understandable to a broader audience. As long as you’re not writing your evil characters as Moustache-Twirling Villains then you’re okay.
There are plenty of other questions that arise for Christian writers when dealing with the idea of other worlds and other sentient races. Next time we’ll go over the questions of afterlives in these other worlds, and inter-species coupling.