Thanks for checking out this series! If this is the first blog you’re reading on ‘Writing Speculative Fiction as a Christian’ then please see my intro on post #1 for context on the reason I’ve put this series together.
In the last post, we talked about how different sentient species might struggle with sin and evil in ways different from humans, and what that might mean for those species in the long run. Which leads into some other interesting questions when it comes to non-human characters who are still similar to humans in most regards…
What about the afterlife?
For some fantasy worlds I’ve invented an afterlife as well. For the world of Chronomancer I invented quite a few different places a soul could go depending on species and lifestyle. And since they’re fictional, I could also invent different reasons and qualifications for a soul ending up in one place or another.
Since I tend to view my fictional worlds as a lesser reality, with God’s reality above all, the way I look at it is that wherever souls go in my stories (whether darkness, paradise or somewhere in between) they are only there for as long as those worlds endure. Everything eventually returns to God, and on the day of final judgement, every soul will find itself where God deems it should go.
On the science-fiction spectrum, you may be wondering about aliens. Well, in reality it would be debatable whether or not aliens have souls – and it may depend on the species, or they may have something entirely different that we could only possibly understand as being “soul-like.” But as creatures of your own invention, you can decide for yourself whether they have souls or not.
It would be assumed that if God created these creatures in the first place, then He has a purpose and a home in mind for them somewhere in His new heavens and new earth, so whether purely spirit, purely body, or both together, they would likely have some experience of an afterlife upon death.
As for what measures any individual alien would have to meet in order to be on the heavenly side of that, that’ll depend on how that species struggles with evil and sin and how they deal with it. You can read some thoughts on that in the previous post.
What about half-human cross-breeds?
If humans alone are the image bearers of God, and we have relationships and even children with other races, then are we diluting the image of God? It almost seems a weird question to ask in today’s progressive-oriented world. But it’s a question you may be faced with if aliens or orcs suddenly turned out to be real.
One work around for this, if you don’t even want to address the question, is to just make different species to be relationally incompatible. That’s already pheasible with centaurs and mermaids, but it’s less believable with elves whose only obvious genetic difference is pointy ears.
There’s different ways around this depending on what makes you comfortable. With some races that are actually quite similar to humans, like elves and dwarves, you could make the argument that they are all in fact human, and that they simply have different gene pools. Considering the genetic diversity found within mankind, and how long mankind has been around, and how many ethnic groups have likely (and unfortunately) been wiped out long before recorded history, I would not consider it the least bit strange if there were once humans with pointed ears.
If you do want to go the route of them being entirely different species however, yet still genetically compatible, then consider God choosing different sentient races to represent Him in different ways. If humans are made in God’s image, perhaps elves were made to reflect other aspects of God, maybe something related to sound since elves are often musically oriented. Perhaps dwarves reflect something related to strength.
Since we are dealing with fictional races and hypothetical scenarios, I’m reluctant to imply that any specific race is God’s chosen representative of any particular trait by name. I am only trying to present a general idea. If mankind reflects one aspect of God, and other races reflect others, then interracial coupling would not so much dilute God’s image as it would reflect His traits in new ways.
There is a line however when it comes to aliens or races that come off as significantly animalistic, or at least more beast than man. The Bible is against bestiality. Where to draw the line when it comes to fictitious species is up to you as the writer (if you stretch it too far then just be aware that some of your audience may not be comfortable).
Personally, I would advise against any species that are animal from the waist down, or that have animal faces, since those are the two areas most associated with intimacy.
There is still the paramount question of the role of Jesus in the salvation of other sentient species. A question I touched on in the previous post, but that is also a big enough question to deserve a post of its own, and we’ll dive deeper into that topic next time…
Excellent advice for writers of fantasy!
You’ve put a lot of very helpful information into this post, Ben. I particularly like your explanation of the afterlife and your fantasy worlds being “a lesser reality where everything returns to God for judgement.” And sci-fi beings being part of God’s plan if he created them.
“…I would not consider it the least bit strange if there were once humans with pointed ears.” Love that explanation. And thanks for the warning of the line between inter-species intimacy and bestiality. I hadn’t thought of that.
I’m very interested in reading your next post!
Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. 🙂
I’ve often wondered this myself sometimes. As a christian I try to make stories that don’t have anything that would have anything too horrendous but I have to wondereder where I make the line of romantic plots of in a fantasy setting there are human like races. Not just elves and such but like races that are almost human like but have small animal features like wings or a tail or that they have this shapshifting power that has them take and animal like form. I just don’t know what to do with this
Thank you for commenting, Danielle Sly. Good question! I didn’t even think about people that transform into animals when I wrote this, so thank you for bringing up that thought. I guess my suggestion, if you want to be on the safe side, would be to avoid the two characters being romantic with each other while one is in human-like form and the other is in a more animalistic form. That’s how I approached it in Orcs Vs. Wolves, where a lot of the characters were werewolves – I decided they could be romantic when both human, or both beast, but not one and the other. I hope that helps. Thanks for the question!