By Bruce Hennigan
Recent successful series such as Stephen Lawhead’s “Skin Map” books utilize one of the most common staples of fiction, parallel worlds. The idea is not a new one. George MacDonald in “Phantastes” used such a device in his works. And, his writing influenced C. S. Lewis to develop Narnia.
In recent years, there has been an explosion in the use of this device in Christian speculative fiction (CSF). But, the possibility of such universes/worlds raises even more significant questions for Christian authors. What is God’s role in parallel universes? Does God have a different plan for that creation? Does sin exist? How would God handle the atonement issue in another universe? More importantly for any well informed Christian is the central question: Does the presence of a “multiverse” do away with the necessity of a Creator God? After all, with an infinite number of universes, ours just might be the one universe in which, purely by chance, life has developed and we really don’t need a God to bring it all into existence!
Purpose versus chance makes CSF unique. Other fiction can speak the truth about morals or the way the world works or what makes a person love or hate. Other fiction might be silent about God. Other fiction might speak a “lie” about any of these things. Only Christian fiction speaks the truth about God.
So, how do we utilize the idea of a “multiverse” without compromising the message of Christ? According to Jeff Zweerink of the organization Reasons to Believe, there are two types of the theoretical multiverse we see in fiction.
Level II: “bubble universes that obey the same equations of physics but with different fundamental constants, particles, and dimensionality.”
Level III: “the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics in which each quantum event alters the ‘history’ or ‘world’ in such a way that each of the possible outcomes is realized.”
But, Zweerink also says:
“While the details are too specific to include here, all viable multiverse models still require a beginning! Although these models make the issue more complex and nuanced, the fundamental Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo still stands on firm ground. In fact, research into multiverse alternatives to a single universe has made the case for a beginning even more robust than ‘big bang’ cosmology alone.”
Bottom Line: Go ahead and write about those alternate worlds and universes. But, be careful. As authors of CSF conveying the Truth in our stories, we must be extremely canny with world building. To stray away from the Truth of historical Christianity’s tenets, even in a parallel world, would give credence to a universal theology. Here, we must be very, very careful. After all, a prudent study of early church heresies reveals just this type of fiction: tweaking the Truth into a version that suits our human thought processes and needs.
We can indulge in the possibilities of multiple worlds and universes, but let us be very careful with the worlds we build. Let us remember that in writing our stories about parallel worlds and alternate universes, we are appealing to a secular audience so we must be informed by the current scientific theories. By imbedding the values of Christian theism in our stories, we bring Truth to their awareness. Above all else, we must tell the Truth!
Bruce Hennigan is a radiologist, a church dramatist, and a certified apologist. He co-authored “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan For Conquering Depression” from B & H Publishing. He is the author of three novels, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye“, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” published by Realms Books and “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” through Westbow Press. His latest novel, “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” will be released the summer of 2015. For more information, check out his website at brucehennigan.com, 11thdemon.com, and conquerngdepression.com.