Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hell is the Absence of God

hmm. ruminating in the shower about my life and God.

Thing is, it's hard to read sci-fi the way I do and not recall some book or story that has its own interpretations on the issue.. One of the topics sci-fi writers like to touch on is the issue of God, more specifically, how does God fit into any kind of technological future? Especially since most sci-fi assumes we'll eventually get off earth, or that there's alien intelligence, both topics on which the bible appears to be silent.

And, I like those that deal with this issue particularly much. Three particular stories.. Isaac Asimov's "The Final Question", Jim Cowan's "The Spade of Reason", and Ted Chiang's "Hell is the Absence of God."

The Spade of Reason is my favorite story, ever.. I'm not sure if it's about God, about mathematics, about God in mathematics, or just about insanity.. but I found myself thinking about Hell is the Absence of God.

I first read the story in a bookstore, browsing through Ted Chiang's collected series "Stories of Your Life and Others", mostly because I'd loved "Story of Your Life". But Hell is the Absence of God was the first story and so I read that..

In the story, Neil Fisk is living in a strange world where the God of Abraham has manifested himself. 'Angels' manifest themselves, (and these angels are proven in the sotry to be Uriel, and Gabriel, and so on..) and people who die are seen to go to heaven, and more importantly, people who die are also seen to go to hell. Hell isn't fire and brimstone though.. It IS down. People can see into hell, right beneath their feet, and basically, it's just mundane life, just like the normal world, except that there is no God.. or Hell is the Absence of God. And since hell is for people who don't love God, and heaven is for people who don't, it seems a perfect arrangement all around.

The problem for Neil Fisk is that he loves his wife, and she loves God, but he doesn't. So when she dies, she goes to heaven. And he finds himself confronting the thought of eternity without his wife. Desperate, he tries to love God, but can't. And in the end, his one hope is this -- all the people who have been caught in the instant when an angel returns to heaven after manifesting, are burnt out, eyes blinded by the glory of God, hopelessly in love with God, and inevitably go to heaven when they die. So he starts chasing the angels, which is basically like chasing a hurricane. But when he finally catches one at the leaving point, he happens to get in an accident, and dies on the spot, and promptly finds himself in hell -- but with that hopeless love and longing for God. In a place which is fundamentally defined by His absence.

Thing is, I think I'm kind of like Fisk at the moment.. I want to love God, but I don't, not really. more like, in the mode where "even the demons believe, and tremble!"


1 comment:

highness in drag said...

Hmm, Simply put, Hell is the Absence of Love.Since God=Love.

How can you feel to be without God if you have Love in your heart, and for the people around you?

You are never far away from the Divine. Just look into Key's eyes :)