Monday, 28 April 2014


In Poul Anderson's World Without Stars, "God" is our galaxy seen from a planet of a star in intergalactic space. In Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, Merseians refer to "the God" and Ythrians refer to "God the Hunter" but neither of these phrases is interchangeable with any Abrahamic or Indian use of the word "God."

The human-descended Gwydiona say things like:

"'I understand that God wears a different face in most of the known cosmos.'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York,2012), p. 554.

"'...we have lived here a long time. We know the Aspects of God on Gwydion better than you.'" (p. 560)

"'O guest of the house, who may be God, most welcome and beloved, enter.'" (p. 562)

"'...that Aspect of God called the Green Boy...the autumnal Huntress Aspect...the Night Faces...the Day Faces...'" (p. 563)

Gradually we realize that "God" also means an annual collective experience not remembered afterwards... This is mysterious, then shocking when the extra-planetary visitors learn the truth.

Meanwhile, here is a theological conundrum closer to home. In "The Problem of Pain," a Christian character, Peter Berg, says:

"'Way back before space travel, the Church decided Jesus had come only to Earth, to man. If other intelligent races need salvation - and obviously a lot of them do! - God will have made His suitable arrangements for them.'"
- Poul Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), pp. 28-29.

But "the Church" can speak with a different voice in different periods. Seven centuries later, a Wodenite has converted to Jerusalem Catholicism and has been ordained in the Galilean Order.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Actually, the CATHOLIC Church has not, at least yet, made any such declaration or definition of the mission of Our Lord. Some Catholics even speculate on whether part of the Church's mission will be to proclaim the Gospel to non human rational beings. I touched on such ideas in my "God and Alien in Anderson's Technic Civilization" essay.

Hmmm, maybe it's a good idea to bring to the head of your blog the essay I mentioned above? It doesn't have to stay there, let it again "slide down" the normal way. Only if you agree, of course!

And the problem with what Peter Berg said is that we don't know WHICH church he means. Since he mentions it as having priests, it could be one or all of the Orthodox churches. But, not the Jerusalem Catholic Church (which you think is the Roman rite of the Catholic Church after the Papacy moved to Jerusalem), because non human converts WERE accepted.


Paul Shackley said...

Your request is our command. Keep watching the blog.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Many thanks! I noticed you placed my "God and Alien" essay at the head of your blog. I hope it interests some readers and inspires comments and replies.

Poul Anderson is one of the few major SF authors who took religion, esp. Christianity, seriously in his works (despite his professed agnosticism). And he was able to create characters who believed in God in a natural, unforced manner. In the Technic History, we see Jews, Christians, and at least one Buddhist among his characters. As well as non humans having their own religions.

Gene Wolfe, James Blish, Jerry Pournelle, Julian May, and the tragic Walter Miller are mong the other SF writers I can think of who took religion seriously in their works.