Tuesday, 26 July 2016

An Original Idea

SM Stirling, Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998).

"'Well, that's original, at least,' Cofflin said quietly." (p. 103)

It certainly is, a genuine "Why didn't I think of that?" moment. We are familiar at least with the concepts of two kinds of conflict:

(i) Biblical God-Satan stuff, Armageddon etc;

(ii) time wars, i.e., conflicts between rival groups of time travelers, like Poul Anderson's Time Patrol and Exaltationists or his Wardens and Rangers.

Has anyone thought of linking these two kinds of conflict? A Time Patrol Academy trainer says:

"'As for Babylonians, time travel just wasn't in their world-picture. We had to give them a battle-of-the-gods routine.'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 14.

And we would like to read a story set inside the world-view of a Babylonian Time Patrol member. In Stirling's Island..., Nantucket has been transported to 1250 B.C., thus before not only the birth but also the crucifixion of Christ. Pastor Deubel (Devil?) preaches:

science cannot explain the Event, which is both purposive and evil;
it would be blasphemous to receive Communion before the Crucifixion;
Satan must intend to change history by preventing the birth of Christ!

Imagine a Newer Testament written by Deubel with Armageddon fought be time traveling angels and demons.

Martha Stoddard, the librarian responds correctly to Deubel's nonsense about "science." Science is not a body of doctrines opposed to Deubel's Christian doctrines. Scientists try to explain phenomena. Thus, at any time, there are two kinds of phenomena:

those that have been explained;
those that have not been explained yet.

Explanations can be revised. Some phenomena might never be explained but the only way to find out is to try to explain them - and, even then we might just have to say, "This has not been explained yet." An event is explained by demonstrating that it is an instance of a law. A law is explained by demonstrating that it is an instance of a more general law. Thus, at any time, the most general laws cannot be explained. Nor can merely unique events. Conceivably, there is a residue of inexplicable unique events. Science is valid if its laws explain most events and this is confirmed because technology works. One of my facebook correspondents used to use facebook to rubbish the supposed pretensions and dogmas of "scientists." I stopped corresponding with him.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And I recall how the Catholic priest in Nantucket also opposed Deubel's erroneous teaching. It would help to keep in mind the often opposing DISTINCTIONS made by Catholic and Protestants.