Are fictional writings a form of untruth?
We respond to a comment that fiction writing is ‘untruth’.
Published: 3 November 2020 (GMT+10)
In our article Is otherworldly science fiction biblical?, I responded to a question on whether it was appropriate for Christians to write science fiction stories about alien life on other worlds. In short, I pointed out that:
- Not all science fiction is bad. Some just promotes concepts of the future and certain proposed advanced technologies. But most science fiction today has themes about intelligent and sentient life forms populating the rest of the universe (see Evolution and the Science of Fiction).
- That these modern concepts of extraterrestrial life are based upon evolution occurring elsewhere in the universe. And the foundation of this is the big bang which provides an estimated evolutionary age for the universe of c.13.7 billion years.
- Because this particular form of science fiction has its origin in mainstream evolutionary science, it promotes not just fictional ideas but worldview concepts that are antibiblical and displace the Creator God from the origins story.
- That ideas of intelligent life elsewhere are anti-Gospel for a number of reasons as demonstrated in our position statement at Did God Create Life on Other Planets? (Note: if you decide to comment on this last point, please ensure you read the linked article first).
- The ideas about advanced ETs can lead people directly into areas of spiritual deception and activity as amply demonstrated in the book Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the evolution connection. And also testified to during interviews with many former ‘alien abductees’ in the movie Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception.
- Therefore, while all fiction is not bad, Christians should not promote imaginary concepts that can lead people astray into anti-God ideas. Romans 15:1 reminds us that “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
The Is otherworldly science fiction biblical? article received a lot of comments including this one from Michael S. who wrote:
“By definition, fiction is UNTRUTH. Jesus Christ is TRUTH. Surely our preference should be toward Him. The more we know Him and love him, the more we will turn away from UNTRUTH. The two cannot happily exist together.” (Emphases in original).
One might wonder why CMI would respond to whether writing fiction stories is some type of sin, perhaps. After all, CMI is a ministry that attempts to uphold biblical truth.
The first thing that came to mind is that Jesus spoke in parables. Were all these parables actual events or was Jesus using stories to teach us? Most commentators throughout history believe that the parables are stories or analogies. And surely no Christian would think that Jesus was using sinful or ungodly methods to teach people. Even a righteous ‘end’ should never justify ungodly means. Jesus was using these stories as a convenient and also simple way to teach and to convey truth. Jesus used at least 30 distinct parable stories, including ten in Matthew 13 alone. They are:
- The Sower and the Soils (Matthew 13:1-9)
- The Reason for Parables (Matthew 13:10-17)
- The Explanation of the Sower (Matthew 13:18-23)
- The Tares (Matthew 13:24-30)
- The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
- The Leaven (Matthew 13:33)
- The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
- The Costly Pearl (Matthew 13:45-46)
- The Dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50)
- The Householder (Matthew 13:52)
We are all familiar with the concept of parables so there is no need to exhaustively go through them. Indeed, these simplified explanations have been used on young and old alike for generations. But let’s very briefly look at two which are often cited as a pair just as an example. The parables of the Hidden Treasure and The Costly Pearl.
The Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44). Jesus said:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
The Costly Pearl (Matt. 13:45–46). Jesus said:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Of course, sermons have been written on single parables, but this is not our aim here. A simple analogy is that a man, who obviously has possessions of his own, finds something of far greater worth—the Gospel. His earthly wares pale into comparison with the unspeakable joys and riches of where the Gospel that he found will lead him, which is to eternal life in Heaven.
Jesus was also asked why he spoke in parables. In Matt. 13: 10–17 we read:
“Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
The parables of Jesus are quite brilliant. For those who want to hear and understand, the truth was quite evident. They might even reveal greater mysteries of the Kingdom to those on the ‘inside’, and to conceal the truth to some on the ‘outside’ Why was this?
One Bible website has a nice simple explanation. “Unwillingness on the part of the people to receive Jesus’ message of the kingdom was the reason that He taught in parables. The truths of the kingdom of God were heard by them but not understood. It was not because God was hiding the truth from them-it was because they did not want to hear.”
Does the Bible contain fiction?
Now, skeptics might claim here that CMI is saying that the Bible contains fiction and therefore untruths. If Jesus was using fictional stories then the comment that Michael S. made that ”fiction is UNTRUTH” is going to be problematic for our inerrant view of Scripture. CMI’s Russell Grigg explained in Should Genesis be taken literally? that “the Bible obviously contains … parables—as in many of the sayings of Jesus, such as the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3–23), which Jesus Himself clearly states to be a parable and about which He gives meanings for the various items, such as the seed and the soil.”
We believe that Scripture should always be used as a frame of reference for understanding our world. In short, for discernment. Note in the two parables I wrote about Jesus indicates they are stories by also using terms such as “is like a treasure” or “is like a man”. The fact that the Creator Himself is using fictional stories to teach and convey biblical and spiritual truths, can be our guide also. This is why I cautioned against writing science fiction stories that convey ideas that are opposite to or against biblical truths. As my colleague Lita Sanders (our New Testament specialist) mentioned to me “A fictional story that everyone knows is fictional is not a lie.” Jesus always let us know when He was going to tell us a story to convey the truths of the Kingdom.
Incidentally, we carry fiction only in the form of children’s books and videos such as our Creation Science Club novels which are designed to show the flaws of evolution and the truth of biblical creation. Or the book One Big Family (coauthored with my wife), where we attempt to dispel the notion of ‘races’ from a biblical perspective.