I recently read Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming series of novels* and thoroughly enjoyed them! The god-like characters in the novels were interesting food for thought. To talk about it, I’ll first give a brief synopsis here:
The series starts on the planet Harmony 40 million years after humans have left Earth. The initial humans set up a computer system they call the Oversoul. This system monitors all humans on the planet, and alters their thoughts when they conceive of technology that would enable them to cause large-scale destruction (such as the bombs that they believe destroyed Earth). Over time, a sort of religion has developed around the Oversoul. After 40 million years, the Oversoul realizes its systems are failing, and that it needs to return to Earth where the mysterious “Keeper of the Earth” might be able to repair it. The Oversoul influences one family to locate the original spaceships that brought humans to Harmony and help the Oversoul return to Earth. The final novel takes place on Earth and tries to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the Keeper.
When a book introduces a god, my mind starts comparing it to the real One. What’s the same? What’s different? I really enjoyed the experience with these books! (If you’ve read the novels, you’ll know that some of these observations apply to the Oversoul and some to the Keeper.)
– God communicates in dreams. (I have a huge love for dreams, so it was fun to see this aspect played up in a novel.) We know that God communicated through dreams in the Bible, and He still does so today. Many of the conversions happening in the Muslim world are due to dreams about Christ!
– God plans large-scale.
– God’s plan is that His children would love one another.
– God wants people to choose to follow His will freely.
– God does plan large scale, but He also cares very deeply about each individual.
– Most importantly, in the novels, the Keeper does not incarnate, does not die, and is not resurrected to save His people from sin and death. (As far as I know, the only fictional God to come close to doing this is Aslan!) While many aspects of “God” in the novels are beautiful and felt familiar to me, this difference is huge. The Keeper becomes a powerful care-taker with morals, and, while worthy of the respect of humans, is not worthy of their worship. These thoughts will be explored more generally in my next post explaining why I, as a Christian, love reading sci-fi.
* After drafting this post, I read that Card’s Homecoming series is a sci-fi retelling of the Book of Mormon. It explains a lot about some of the things I saw in the series, but I don’t think it changes much of what I’ve written here.