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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lies of Fantasy Fiction

There are those Christians out there in the vast Christian world who have it in for any Christian who write science fiction or fantasy, especially fantasy. One such example is the following:

The primary argument from folk like these is that since fantasy is describing events and beings that we know either don't exist, or we've never met any, that such authors are lying and thus sin from the Bible's point of view. As a matter of fact, if you look at the above site's several arguments, they are all based upon this presupposition that fantasy is a lie.

But there is a problem. He says that "Since fantasy is not true, then it is a lie." That's a logical fallacy; the converse of a statement isn't necessarily true. If I say all chickens have wings, the converse is not true: that all animals with wings are chickens. Same thing here.

Why? Well, think about it. What is the definition of a lie? If used as a noun, it is "A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth." If used as a verb, it is "Tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive." Not all untruths are lies.

How can you pervert the truth when what you are writing about doesn't exist? And inherent in the definition of telling a lie, is the intent to deceive. How can a fiction author be "lying," that is, intending to deceive their audience by pretending that what they are writing about is real, when the label "fiction" clearly tells the reader what they are about to read is not reality?

If I come up to you and say, "I'm about to tell you something that isn't true. Clouds are really cotton candy that escaped from someone's hands." Have I lied? No. I didn't pretend that it was true, I told you straight up that it wouldn't be. So you are not deceived.

The prohibition in Scripture to lying is specifically with the intent to deceive someone. When you pick up a book of fiction, especially fantasy, you would be greatly disappointed if what you found there wasn't other-worldly and unreal. Because, that's what the word "fantasy" means. People don't read it--unless they have a really low IQ--thinking that this stuff really happened, or could.

So, to say that fantasy authors are lying, is...well, a lie. We warn you ahead of time that this is not real by putting the labels "fiction" and "fantasy" on them. There is no intent to deceive and doesn't fall into the Biblical injunction of lying.

The other big argument is that it may draw people into accepting things like magic, Wiccan, black arts, and other sorts of evil. This is an argument used often against J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Here's a question for you. How many people do you know that have converted to Wiccan or fallen away from Christ by reading her books? I bet few can point to specific individuals who actually did so (not just those kid quotes about wanting to become a witch—all taken from a site satirizing such things and thus wasn't true—so if using it, you are promoting lies). I mean a person or group of people you can point to and say, "Mary there was a Christian until she read Harry Potter, and now she's a Wiccan because of it." I dare say we could count such individuals on one hand if we could find them.

Truth is, the Wiccan's hated that series because they feel it is a distortion of everything they are about and promoting stereotypes they have sought to avoid. J. K. Rowling has done more to damage than help them.

Now, if you are a convert from Wiccan or something similar, I can understand not wanting to read something that could cause you to stumble if you are weak in that area--if you feel that just reading about a wizard, even a good one doing what is right, would cause you to dump Christianity and head back the Wiccans (which if that is the case, a fantasy novel is the least of your worries right now), then I suggest to stay away from fantasy! If you're an alcoholic, don't order that beer or stay away from bars.

But the vast majority of people know this is fantasy, know it isn't real, and will not be influenced to dump their faith simply because they read a good story they liked.

I liked reading Lord of the Rings, but I never had the desire to go and search for Middle Earth or seek out Gandolf to learn how to cast spells. I've never heard of anyone doing that either. And I was still a Christian after reading it.

Guilt by association doesn't work here either. Anyone that can do real magic, like the magicians in Pharaoh's court that Moses ended up having a "magic" duel with, are "evil" in how they use God's power, not the power itself to do supernatural things. Otherwise, you shouldn't drive an automobile, because it is the reason why thousands of people each month are killed. It must then be evil and no one should associate with it!

Evil magic is evil because of how a person uses God's creation and the attributing of it to something other than God in order to use it for selfish purposes. Otherwise, we would have to declare that all the miracles in the Bible are evil as well. What distinguishes them from evil "magic" isn't the supernaturalness of the event, but in how that power is used.

For these reasons, the argument that "Christian" and "fantasy" can't go together, is an "oxymoron," is silly. The fallacy of such arguments as it being a lie and the idea of guilty by association shows clearly the faulty logic these arguments stand on.

Read fantasy responsibly.

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