Friday, October 12, 2018

Out of the Silent Planet


                                                                In my Prophets Seminar today we spent part of our time looking at Ellen Davis' chapter 4 in her book Biblical Prophecy in the Interpretation series, a chapter subtitled "Prophetic Views of the Created Order." Among other insights, Davis (p. 88) takes note of how texts such as Hosea 2:15 (MT v. 17) display what Terence Fretheim calls the "inter-responsiveness" characteristic of the interaction of God and creation. Here, the earth is not inert but somehow partakes of an inwardness or at least has an inside story. This angle of vision cuts against the modern scientific vision of the cosmos as a dead, cold, mostly vacuous expanse, in which interiority is a very late and very small epiphenomenon. For some of us, this called to mind Lewis' science fiction and his critique of the materialist myth in Out of the Silent Planet. As the spaceship on which he is a prisoner hurdles toward Mars, the protagonist, Ransom finds he does not feel the deadness and emptiness that he expected to find in space, "Ransom, as time wore on, became aware of another and more spiritual cause for his progressive lightening and exultation of heart.  A nightmare, long engendered in the modern mind by the mythology that follows in the wake of science, was falling off him.  He had read of ‘Space’: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds." "He had not known how much [the materialist myth] affected him till now – now that the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam.  He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment.  How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life had come?  He had thought it barren: he saw now that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the Earth with so many eyes – and here, with how many more!  No: Space was the wrong name. Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens."

2 Comments:

Blogger James McGrath said...

What’s the connection with Lewis’ science fiction novel? It may have been too long since I read it...

Fri Oct 12, 06:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Yes, sorry. It came up in my prophets seminar today. I must add a comment up in the post...

Fri Oct 12, 07:27:00 PM GMT-5  

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