God as the Author and the Author as God

Apparently knowledge also equals little beams of light shooting out of your body.

Melissa and I seem to be thinking on the same wave-length this week, which I’m sure must be frightening for her.  Lately I hear and read a lot about relativism, truth, certainty, and knowledge.  I think, to a large degree, people use these terms in discussion and debate without ever coming to agreement about what they mean.  Let me start by saying that in my personal thinking and for the purposes of this post I am going to define knowledge as ‘determinative power’.  To know something is to be able to speak of its innate substance (to determine that things truth), yet as humans we are incapable of understanding the innate substance of that which surrounds us.  We must place out trust in something internal, our senses, our feelings, our logic, etc.  Let us say that I place my trust in only what my senses tell me, then I must assume that my senses are trustworthy and can accurately tell me about the world.

If I place my trust in my feelings then I must assume the same, the same for logic; thus I, as a human, am incapable of saying anything about the intrinsic nature of anything else, only about my understanding of that intrinsic nature (this is what we normally mean when we say knowledge).  Because of this I can speak only of my understanding, and the beliefs I form around it.  This is not a denial of truth or an acceptance of relativism, do not assume so, it must be accepted that there is one truth and that truth is absolute (truth=reality), however my ability to understand and form beliefs about that truth is limited.  This is also not an argument that all beliefs lead to one truth.  It should be obvious to anyone that two contradicting beliefs cannot both be correct, though they may have objectively equal truth claims (e.g. a woman and her clone both claim to be the original, both have exactly the same memories, dna, personality, identifying marks, etc, thus their truth claims are objectively equal, but only one is actually the original).  Lastly, this is not an argument against certainty.  I can, and do, have absolute certainty in my beliefs.  I believe that my beliefs are an accurate reflection of the truth (if I did not, I would not believe them), but I am, and must be, willing to accept that I could be wrong (however unlikely I think this to be).

Although God doesn't have to steal his ideas from other authors.

Why does this matter?  As an author I create worlds, thus I know what is and is not true within my worlds (knowledge=determinative power).  While my fans may read my writings and form beliefs about my worlds, they cannot ‘know’ what is true about my worlds, unless I tell them.  In the real world we are all in the same position.  God is the creator and holds creative authority over the real world, just as I hold creative authority over my fictional worlds.  Thus, as only I may hold knowledge about my fictional worlds, only God may hold knowledge of the real world.  Just as my readers opinions, beliefs, and convictions about my world may reflect the truth of that world; my opinions, beliefs, and convictions about the real world may reflect the truth of God’s creation.

In your literary world you are, effectively, god.  Your word is creative power, and true knowledge is limited to your mind.  There is nothing that you can’t do in your world, though there are certainly things that you shouldn’t do or that your fans won’t like (God doesn’t have to worry about critics, editors, and selling copies afterall).  While our readers may inform our decisions (as can our own characters – Moses after the breaking of the Ten Commandments, anyone?), they cannot determine those decisions.  Remember that, no matter what anyone else says, you know what can, should, and will happen in your world better than they do…even if they know the details better than you.  This is an important distinction because it gives you the freedom to do what you need to do, even if someone else might not like it.  Glen Cook, one of my favorite authors, made the point that, in spite of critics, a writer has to write the way he writes.  So write the way you write, and then find people that like it.

We must also realize that not everyone is going to like what we write.  The same is true with God, there are a great many people that don’t believe in him, or that don’t agree with him (this is true whatever religion you are from), and, just like our readers, they have a right to disagree.  In this case disagreement will (according to many religions) bear somewhat greater consequences than missing a great book, but it is still their choice.

***********************

Among the Neshelim  is now available in eBook on Smashwords and Kindle and in print from Amazon.com, I’ll have a link for the print copy coming soon.  I am curious what people think of the blub.  Does it draw you in? Make you want to read the book?  If not, why not?

Among the Neshelim

Tobias Mastgrave

Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, we seek it, but it is always a rare commodity.

Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before. This journey will turn the world he thought he knew upside down and challenge everything his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?

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About noothergods

I hate writing these things. Ok, a little bit about me. I split my time between this world and other worlds so I'm only here about 25% to 50% of the time. Other times my body might be here (or you never know it might not) but I am off somewhere else having strange and usually pretty horrible adventures. I consider myself a scholar of Christian Theology and of Religion in general, I love learning about other people's belief systems. I think that Shinto is fascinating and I'm obsessed with the theology of sin...and with monkeys...I don't know why I'm obsessed with monkeys but I blame Gus...if you know him you'll understand that, if you don't then...well...I blame Gus. Anyway, I'm the one of the blog that needs to be censored the most so if there's anything posted that you find offensive it was probably me. I think that my brain doesn't really work the way it's supposed to but that's an issue for a whole other time. I have two degrees, a B.S. in Religion and an M.Div. in leadership. I enjoy a great many things some of which include writing (gee, what a surprise), martial arts, anything media that has a good story to tell, cooking, discussing/reading/occasionally writing about Christian theology, General theology, religious belief systems, philosophy, etc. I also enjoy reading medieval and previous magical texts and studying the history, practice, and beliefs about magic from around the world. I don't practice magic and if you want to know my personal beliefs on the subject you can email me, however the intersection of magic and religion is a very interesting topic.

Posted on August 6, 2011, in Authors, Christianity, Theology, Tobias Mastgrave and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ahh, God as Author, one of my favorite analogies for Him. It really is incredible how closely the role of storyteller (in whatever format you wish) parallels God’s relationship to our world. It’s almost as if, y’know, He wanted to give us an illustration or something. Or maybe even wanted us to follow His footsteps, even if only a little. 🙂

    I would challenge one thing you said, though. You say that ‘two contradicting beliefs cannot both be correct’. I say they can, but that the contradiction must rely on a flawed understanding of their relationship. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about paradigm shifts and how useful they can be for resolving seemingly contradictory problems which must, by all evidence, both be true. I find that, as Christians, many of us are all too eager to insist that ‘OUR interpretation of God’s word is the right one, and there may be no deviation from it!’

    • Two seemingly contradictory beliefs can easily not be actually contradictory. A great example is Paul’s statement that we are saved by faith, not by works; and James’ statement that without works, faith is dead. On the surface these seem to be contradictory, however when you look at the contexts of the passage, and the audience each man was speaking to, you realize that both Paul, and James, are essentially saying the same thing: that works are a natural outgrowth, and proof, of faith.

      However, two actually contradictory beliefs cannot be true. For instance Christianity teaches that it is the only true religions. Islam also teaches that it is the only true religion. If there is one true religion, they cannot both be it. Thus, one of the two truth claims must be false.

      However, you are correct that we need to be very careful about how we treat our interpretations of scripture. It is very easy to fall into the trap of saying that, ‘I know (pesky word, we should get rid of it) that I’ve translated/interpreted this correctly, so everyone else must be wrong.’ And then to take it to the next level, ‘If they cannot accurately interpret scripture, then I must wonder if they are actually saved.’

      I see this attitude in a number of popular preachers today, and it is a very dangerous attitude to have. There are certain fundamentals that one must believe to be a Christian, however, beyond these we must be comfortable with people disagreeing over a book that is often (intentionally?) vague.

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