I recently received a negative (2 star) book review of the third book in my newly released science fiction series. The book in question is “Atraya”, the third in my LONGSHOT trilogy. It’s pretty clear that the reviewer was an atheist who was outraged that I dared to create a character who believed in God. I want to make a couple of important points about the unreasonable militancy of atheism, but first, let me reprint the review in full:
“The author is a talented storyteller who used a slow first book to build up a continually engaging series. I loved the hard science tone. His character development is outstanding.
I wish I had known that the author was going to turn the series into a heavy-handed evangelical Christian recruiting effort. I thought when the Christian “God” was introduced that he was just going to use it to show how some people in the situations he devised would react. But then came the misleading Einstein quotes and the lengthy fallacious “intelligent Design” arguments/statements. I probably have myself to blame, for the author states that he is popular on the apologetic circuit. So, unless you’re are interested in theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrine – disguised as well written science fiction — you might want to give this series a pass. I finished the book, but I had to force myself to, which was a sad testament to the first two and a half books in the series.”
Like everyone, I’m human and it’s easy for me to become defensive when I read something like this, but I take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of reviews for all three books in this series (and the four books of my previous series) have all earned 5-star reviews. But let me make two points.
Firstly, the so-called ‘heavy-handed evangelical Christian recruiting effort’ amounts to a brief exchange between two characters in the middle of the book. It is an obscure single page where one of the central protagonists approaches a chaplain of a starship after a funeral and asks why he believes in God. The chaplain gives an intelligent and respectful answer, but also acknowledges the right of everyone to formulate their own beliefs. The chaplain’s explanation amounts to 222 words. There is also a brief reference by another character at the very end of the book, who says that there is plenty of evidence in the cosmos for the existence of a Creator. That reference is a brief 25 words. And that’s it! A mere 247 words out of 66,000! And none of that even remotely resembles a heavy-handed recruiting effort.
My experience in dealing with atheists in online debates and discussions is that they are often extremely sensitive and intolerant of the Christian viewpoint. While I respect the right of individuals to disbelieve in God, most atheists do not respect my right to hold a different viewpoint. They cannot tolerate a viewpoint that contradicts their own and they seek to tear it down and discredit it at every opportunity. The reviewer in this instance clearly wanted to dissuade people from reading my book, simply because it dared to include a character who upheld a Christian viewpoint.
I find this remarkable and hypocritical. Science fiction is replete with outspoken atheist philosophy. Many science fiction authors openly promote an aggressive atheistic viewpoint, using their characters and their narrative to ridicule people of faith and brazenly declare that science has disproved God. It is a very common theme in sci fi! Atheists apparently have no qualms about promoting their own philosophical viewpoint in their fiction – in fact, ramming it down people’s throats! – yet they apparently cannot tolerate even a brief, respectful mention of a Christian viewpoint.
This one of the reasons why I decided to write science fiction myself. I wanted to have a gentle, respectful Christian voice in a genre that is dominated by atheism. Thus, in both of my science fiction series, (the new LONGSHOT trilogy and the original STARPATH quadrilogy), I have created characters who were intelligent, articulate believers who, at some small point in the narrative, are able to provide a brief, cogent defense of their faith. But, apparently, even these brief references are too much for some atheists, who insist that the atheist viewpoint is the only viewpoint that will be tolerated in this kind of fiction.
The second thing I want to point out, is the way in which the new militant atheism unreasonably singles out Christianity as the primary focus of its attack.
Here is an interesting thought: instead of a Christian chaplain, if I had created a New Age counsellor who advocated reciting mantras and wearing crystals in order to connect with the spiritual power of the universe, there would have been no pushback. If I had created a Buddhist monk who spoke of the divine in everything and everyone, there would have been no criticism. If I had conjured up a Star-Wars-like mystical belief in a spiritual force that pervades the cosmos and results in some kind of spiritual afterlife, it would have been acceptable. Even if I had introduced a Muslim character who prayed toward Mecca and believed in an eternal paradise, there would probably have been no online rant from the reviewer. But a brief, gentle reference by a secondary character regarding belief in the Christian viewpoint brought swift and aggressive derision.
Have you noticed that in this new PC, woke world, it is Christianity that is being specifically targeted, and not the various other expressions of faith? Why is that? There aren’t many instances of atheists protesting against Buddhist beliefs, or trying to outlaw Muslim prayer or attempting to stop New Age organisations only employing New Age staff. I believe it is because of the spiritual battle that our world is now in the grip of (excuse my ending of a sentence with a preposition!). The devil does not bother with the other faiths or the various alternate paths of so-called spirituality. These expressions of faith pose no threat to his rule. In fact, they are quite helpful in steering people away from the truth. It is only the followers of Christ – the risen Son of God and the true Lord of the Universe – who pose a threat to the kingdom of darkness. And Satan is hard at work in our modern world, deliberately and aggressively targeting the Christian faith. It is an all-out war, and it is becoming increasingly militant and vindictive.
These are the signs of the times, and the Bible warns us that they will only get worse.
What should our response be? Stay faithful. Persevere. Don’t give up. And keep looking to Christ, who has gone before us and who promises to be with us to the very end of the age.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
By the way, if you want to check out my Christian-friendly science fiction novels, just search for Kevin Simington on Amazon.
Kevin Simington (B.Th. Dip. Min.) is a theologian, social commentator and Anglican minister. He is the author of 16 books, and his latest, “Reconnecting with God”, is now available. Connect with Kevin on Facebook or his website, SmartFaith.net.