Friday, March 11, 2011

No stars? What would we believe?

So, to follow up on my first blog, if we look to the heavens to create our belief system, what would happen if we could not see the stars?
Imagine living on a planet that is always cloaked in a light cloud cover, not enough to block out the rays of the local sun, but enough that you could never really make out the distant stars.
Now imagine a planet that has two suns, each providing light during different parts of the day so that it was never dark, perhaps dim sometimes, but not inky black like we get on planet Earth.
What would we believe. First, I think, there would be a lot less fear, there would be a lot less suspicion because people could not hide in the dark to do evil deeds. Second, I think our belief system would develop entirely differently.
We probably would look for answers from other things that seemed mysterious. Perhaps that would be the oceans where we can see the surface but not under the surface. Perhaps it would be the earth, from which things grow and where we find precious gems and metals. Perhaps it would be from the clouds if they were prevalent enough and dynamic. Maybe it would be the weather if it spawned thunderstorms, tornadoes or blinding snowstorms.
So how would you build a religion from an entirely different perspective? Where do you start? Would you end up with a supreme being, or have a number of them? Would the mores of societies based on your new religion have the same mores that people on the Earth have developed such as the Golden Rule?
When we start to think of contact with species from another planet, we have to consider such possibilities. We have to prepare ourselves to consider concepts that have been developed from a completely alien environment.
Perhaps the concept of right and wrong, is wrong. What would that do to the morals of the individual? What would be their moral compass? Is goodness, and its counterpart, evil, universal, or is it set by our primary religious beliefs? Perhaps there is no right or wrong, there just IS. That would have to affect how we judge people. It would probably affect where we place blame, where we take credit, for things that impact individuals and societies.
The trouble with trying to develop such a religion and the society it might generate is that we have a hard time imagining the unimaginable. That is why I have so much respect for science fiction writers who can successfully create alien environments, such as Frank Herbert in the "Dune" series or Orson Scott Card in "Speaker for the Dead."
As I develop a sequel to "Foresaken," I have to look at who is calling for my hero and where they are calling from. Developing that story will be the most interesting and challenging writing I have tried.
It should be fun.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are we alone?

"Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints"  A novel by Richard D. Bangs

Are we alone in the universe? It's one of the most puzzling and persistent questions the human species has ever asked.

Ever since homosapiens looked up in the sky and saw the stars and the moon, we wondered what was up there and how we were affected. Countless myths and religions have been created with an eye to the heavens.

For Christians Heaven and Hell are part of a set of beliefs that are key to the meaning of our existence. Heaven, the place of eternal happiness, the place where we all go if we are good, if we pass muster with those who judge us from above.

For many other religions and cultures, looking toward the heavens for answers is key to their belief systems. From the Egyptian pyramids to the gods of the ancient Greeks, ancient cultures felt a strong connection to the stars.

Is it any wonder, then, that in this scientifically-based culture of today we are still looking to the heavens for answers? The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and the ever increasing search for planets in other solar systems are manifestations of the human species' need to prove that we are not alone in the universe.

 What would happen if people believed that WE ARE ALONE? That our species, our intelligence, our wandering minds, were just accidents of nature  -- the haphazard accumulation of atoms that accidentally gave us life?

That is what the story "Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints" is all about. The tale is set in the not-to-distant future and revolves around that fundamental question. Of course there is danger, mystery, flowering love and action all mixed in to give the story's characters a way to express themselves.

So what do I believe? Are we alone? Is our species just an accident of nature, God's master plan, or something more cosmic?

You will soon get a chance to read about some of my ideas when "Forsaken" is published. Finally preparations are being completed on the manuscript and I've already signed with a publisher.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of the book project. In the meantime, I welcome a discussion of the big question.

Thanks for reading.

Rich Bangs