BOOKS FOR YOU TO READ
Copyright © 2001
THE NEPHILIM SEED
(A novel by James Scott Bell,
1. SCIENCE FICTION AND CHRISTIAN LITERATURE
Science fiction in Christian literature (I deliberately avoid the construction Christian science fiction, for obvious reasons - confusion with the cult of Christian Science) is an interesting genre that does its best to overcome serious objections. For example, is science fiction closer to divination, which is detested in the Word of God? Is not predicting the future or describing it in weird terms with weird characters against the Word of God? What is the relation between prophecy and science fiction?
2. FUTURISM AND SCIENCE FICTION
In its futuristic themes, the science fiction of secular literature sometimes has foreseen some of the present technological developments. What the creative writers visualized and developed for the suspense and mystery of their stories has been technologically achieved. But, there are also stories flooding the market and TV with the themes of creation and "strange" life forms, most of which are not only ugly from the view of ordinary human aesthetics, but also quite misleading and outright falsehood from a Christian theological point of view. These fall under the kind of literature or mythology found in animistic cultures or Islamic tales that focus on the jinn, etc. (We shall talk about the miracle plays, mystery plays, passion plays, etc., with Christian themes, on another occasion.)
3. MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE IN CHRISTIAN LITERATURE
Christian faith is a faith of mystery. The mystery of God "has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints, . . . the Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-27). Jesus Christ is the "revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him" (Romans 16:25-26). But this mystery is not something that breeds suspense.
The Trinity, for example, is the greatest of all mysteries. The relationship between soul and spirit is another great mystery. The story of creation is yet another mystery. The immaculate birth of Jesus in human incarnation is the supreme mystery. That Jesus is wholly God and wholly Man is the mystery that keeps our faith going. But these and other mysteries neither breed suspense nor are these presented to keep the individual's interest in reading the text growing.
These mysteries are appropriated by faith, and this totally eliminates suspense as an element. It is certain and absolute truth, not something that changes and moves forward with ever-increasing uncertainty, that characterizes our faith. The total surrender to Jesus and total faith in Him as the Lord and Savior eliminates the suspense for the Christian. We stand on the assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ that He is the focus of entire human history. The Bible states that any mystery can be understood only with the help of the Word of God, because the Word of God is the double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) by which we can unravel the mystery. In this sense, the objective of science fiction in Christian literature is to restore our faith in the mystery of God. All through the incidents and episodes that breed suspense in good Christian novel is a firm belief, that is explicit, elegant, and reassuring, that reveals the fact that Jesus is the focus of all history. We do relish the suspense, but we also have the eternal hope that the suspense and mystery will be resolved for the good of all because of Jesus Christ.
4. THE NEPHILIM SEED
The Nephilim Seed is a novel of suspense and mystery. It focuses on the current problem of man trying to play God using science to create a superhuman race of Anakites! People were scared of the huge and giant-sized beings, the Nephilim. But faith in God enabled them, under the leadership of Joshua, to overcome these giants and appropriate the land God promised to them.
5. NEPHILIM IN THE WORD OF GOD
Nephilim is an interesting Hebrew word. It is plural in meaning, and is used with a capital letter. It stands for 'a biblical race of giants or demigods.' We read about the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-4, and also in Numbers 13:31-33.
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days-and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4).
But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked at the same to them" (Numbers 13:31-35).
Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, 'The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there' (Deuteronomy 1:28).
Hear, O Israel. You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall-Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: "Who can stand up against the Anakites?" But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you (Deuteronomy 9:1-3).
The Anakites were finally destroyed under the orders of David (2 Samuel 21:15-22).
6. THE STORY IN SEARCH OF ELIMINATING GOD
Dr. Sterling Brown was one of the leading exponents of the Theory of Intelligent Design. He was to debate Dr. Bently Davis of Harvard University who was a severe critic of the Intelligent Design movement on the Today show. There was suspicion that Dr. Bently Davis' UniGen Company does experiments on human beings. The limo driver, who was with the Davis' group, kidnapped and killed Sterling Brown in the early morning on his way to the show.
Janice Ramsey's purse was snatched when she was shopping in the supermarket with her ten year old daughter, Lauren. When she was complaining about the theft of her purse, she found to her astonishment that her daughter was kidnapped.
Jedediah Brown, a bounty hunter and the younger brother of Dr. Sterling Brown, was out to get the limo driver to ask a few questions. But when confronted Anthony, the young driver, jumped out of a tenth-story window ("took a big dive") to his death. He found a telephone number from the coat pocket of the "jumper." And this led to Janice's ex-husband's house. When Janice was about to be raped by her ex-husband, Jedediah Brown saved her.
Dewey Handleman transcended life and had "a flight into another plane of being." He was beyond space-time limitations, a product of a chemical high. He helped a homeless Desert Storm veteran for a cup of coffee, and then killed that vagrant ("vag") hitting him with his backpack near the vag's dumpster. Handleman felt no emotion for what he did.
Lauren escaped from her kidnappers while she was in a bathroom. But she was caught again. Lauren remembered how David fought against a much bigger person, Goliath. And she put her trust in the Lord for her safety and release.
Dr. Bently Davis, the professor who swore by the theory of evolution, was passionately against God and the theory of Intelligent Design, is introduced to us in full view only on page 80. Davis considered it his duty 'to clear out that religious muck from your heads . . . because . . . your brains will die if left in the bog of your childhood religionism.' A freshman boy from a South Dakota small town, John Phillips, confronts him. John declared that he strongly believed that "there is a God. I strongly believe in Jesus." The dialogue didn't go well for Professor Davis, because the boy used the very same logic as Davis to assert, "But, Professor, if reality includes an intelligent designer, science is missing reality by ruling that out from the start."Anthony, the limo driver, and Sa,m the ex-husband of Janice, and Dewey
Handleman were all connected with the project of UniGen, the company run by Dr. Davis. The Nephilim Seed is the shorthand name for the project.
Dewey Handleman was a subject of the project. He had begun to have visions about good and evil, which he was not supposed to develop according to the project protocol. Dr. Burack, a partner of the project with Dr. Davis, was concerned that this would affect the financial prospects of the project. The Nephilim gene that was given to Handleman was supposed to incapacitate the God part of the human brain. The gene will generate a mental competitive edge, and millions of parents would like to have their children with this gene. But, alas, the part of the brain in which the God impulse is located was not incapacitated in Handleman.
Janice and Jedediah arrived in Cambridge, Mass., to check out UniGen. The adventure to find Lauren continues. Sam, Janice's ex-husband, agreed to offer his daughter for the Nephilim gene experiment. Even as he started feeling disturbed at what his daughter was going through, Dr. Davis ordered the killing of Sam and his daughter Lauren. He realized that "the grand experiment had failed, that it would always fail. That human biology would rebel against the attempt to reshape it. That some things that were not measurable were still tangible-like the feelings he had for his daughter. She was not just a thing, as he thought he believed, but part of him in some way that was beyond science to put a value on." Sam got shot, and in the last moment, sought the forgiveness of Janice. Lauren was saved by Jadediah Brown. Ultimately, Dr. Bently Davis, the man who thought he'd be God, says to himself that "he would go on into the eternal recurrence Nietzsche taught and come back again, stronger." He "looked downward, and stepped off the edge."
7. A COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE FAITHFUL AND THOSE WHO WISH TO BE RIGHTEOUS
The story is full of twists and turns, with several unfortunate deaths. The bounty hunter did not have any great faith in God, but Janice and her daughter, from the beginning, put their trust in the Lord for their victory. Christians who read this novel will certainly approach it with certainty that man cannot (and should not) play God. The Nephilim gene is shown to be a total failure. It fails to eliminate the fear of God enshrined in the human brain. There are really no Nephilim in this novel, but the focus is on the attempt to create Nephilim for two reasons: one to make money, and another is to discredit God. Both goals are shown to be illusory. Unlike other such stories that focus on the social consequences of cloning, James Scott Bell's novel focuses on the suffering several individuals and families undergo because of misguided attempts at cloning. There is no real giant let loose because of the experiment, but the evil in man's heart is thoroughly revealed. In a way, The Nephilim Seed reminds us of the meaning of a similar sounding word of Greek origin: nephila. It refers to "a genus of large, elongated brightly marked, mainly tropical spiders," somewhat similar to the silk spiders "a large spider, remarkable for its large webs composed of strong silk." Nephilim is indeed a web that kills the prey that succumbs to or is fearful of the Anakites. For those who trust in the Lord, the Nephilim is easily overcome.
8. A THEOLOGY OF HUMAN BRAIN: GENERAL REVELATION
The Nephilim Seed sounds like a science fiction, but it is not totally science fiction. It is a novel that focuses on a person's disavowal of God and his attempt to create a new brand of people with a competitive edge and power by injecting a gene into humans. The gene is given the code name "The Nephilim Seed." The title suggests the possible aftermath of injecting the gene, but the story portrays only the capture of minds (of at least two persons) through the more traditional method of rhetoric of persuasion, based on false assumptions and arguments. To that extent, we are not exposed to any weird characters with weird anatomy, etc. The evil professor is a zealous Nietzsche admirer and follower. His unstated goal is to remove the consciousness of God from the brain centers in humans. That the general revelation about God is universal and given to all humanity is clearly stated by the Apostle Paul in Romans. Although the author does not pin his story on this truth, the net result desired by Dr. Bently Davis is to eliminate this general revelation ingrained in all humans and to establish a new breed of humans beyond emotions and godly affection. Suspense in the progress of the story often overtakes the Christian theme, but in science fiction this happens more frequently. Written in a simple and elegant style, reading this novel entertains us, even as it shows how basic our acknowledgment of God is in our very existence as humans. The novel begins as if it is going to be a story about the Intelligent Design movement, but, in real sense, the story is about the individuals who have faith in the Sovereign God and about individuals who would like to declare,
God is dead,
James Scott Bell. The Nephilim Seed. Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2001.