Thanks for checking out this series by fantasy writer BENJAMIN T. COLLIER! If this is the first blog you’re reading on ‘Writing Speculative Fiction as a Christian’ then please see Ben’s intro on post #1 for context on the reason he’s put this series together.
By Benjamin T Collier
Last time we discussed the idea of a multiverse and the possibility of people living in these other worlds, so the subject to jump into next is…
Are humans still unique?
Yes. Humans have the unique characteristic of being made in the image of God. What exactly that means is up for debate (to the best of my knowledge). One parallel I see is that God is a Trinity and we humans are a kind of trinity ourselves (body, soul and spirit but one being) though not the same kind of trinity as God. I assume that humans are the only beings in known creation to have this three-fold nature since angels may have soul and/or spirit but no body, and animals have bodies but not souls or spirits.
Another common interpretation is that God has free will and so do humans, and that is the sense in which we are made in God’s image. However, this position seems to suggest that angels lack the faculty of free will, in which case the rebellion of the fallen angels makes no sense.
When writing a story that contains both humans and other sentient races, whether they be aliens in a space story or mythical creatures in a fantasy tale, one of the features I attribute to humans more than other races is in fact their capacity for free will. Other sentient beings may still have free will, but not at the same measure as humans. It’s what gives mankind the capacity to produce strong leaders, but also makes us potentially more devious, and is the reason many races simply don’t trust us.
What about humans in fantasy worlds?
Although it can be assumed that in most space adventures the human characters are all descended from humans that once lived on earth, and therefore have inherited the same problems we all inherited from Adam & Eve (except probably Star Wars), the same assumption may not make sense when applied to a fantasy world. It depends if your world has its own creation mythos, and what it says about the origin of Man in that world. With some fantasy worlds, you can get away with implying that the first human settlers had traveled there from another realm. You could also assume that what your characters refer to as ‘humans’ are not actually humans but just creatures that are very similar to humans.
You run into a problem if you both suggest that these characters are human in the same way that we are human, and imply that they were created by a being other than God, because then how could they have been made in God’s image and therefore possess one of the most defining traits of being human? It may be useful in such circumstances to take the approach of recreate over create, and suppose that these creative entities are making new people from materials already given to them by another.
You may still run into a question of how to make your human characters relatable if their struggle with evil is not the same as our own struggle with sin, if their ancesters had never eaten from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Since the initial problem of the fruit is disobedience, I find it easy to come up with fantasy-based parralels when needed, to show that these humans faced a similar test and also failed. But depending on when your fantasy story takes place, in relation to events occuring on earth, it’s possible that your humans had traveled into this new fantasy world sometime after Eden, or that they were made using materials from Adam & Eve’s descendants.
Next time we’ll discuss how people of other worlds might deal differently with the issues of sin and evil…
To find out more on other topics Ben blogs about go to benjaminfrog.com