Age of Certainty

When Age of Certainty’s call for submissions went out, we asked for stories about how the world would be different if we knew for a fact that God exists, or that He doesn’t. Considering how speculative fiction writers of my acquaintance are overwhelmingly atheist, I assumed they’d take this as an invitation to put paid to the whole concept of divinity. Other non-deists might have a character named “God” who mucks about, and we would draw from a smaller but more fervent cadre of authors who’d make their case in favor of the Lord of All. Age of Certainty was to be an evenhanded collection of stories postulating both the existence and non-existence of God.

That’s not what happened.

The first thing that became apparent once the reading period opened is that genre writers – as much as they consider theology to be complete hokum – love their speculative elements, and the ones who submitted the best work all took the position that God is among us. Without making a blanket statement, my further correspondences with the selected authors suggests that they, as a general rule, have little to no religion in their lives – but that doesn’t make God any less a fascinating character to them.

The next thing that I noticed is that there are quite a number of devout Christians who write speculative fiction. I was really rooting for one of them to break out of the slush pile with a story worthy of inclusion here. Sadly, all I got from that choir was Jesus Christ fanfic devoid of any social commentary, but replete with wish fulfillment.

I confess I’m disappointed by the paucity of good stories submitted which posited that it’s unlikely that God exists. Certainly, nobody can prove a negative thesis, but you can prove that there’s a simpler, more elegant explanation for phenomena up to and including the existence of the universe. Stanley Schmidt has no trouble filling up Analog with such tales every month, but Age of Certainty got few takers. Sadly, that handful of hard science fiction authors who did submit all misinterpreted the submission guidelines. They spent so much time on theory that they made the same mistake as the Bible thumpers and missed the whole point of the book: What would be the effect on society?

Still, I’m happy with how this collection ended up, whether through Divine intervention or happenstance. It’s my privilege to present to you tales from ten talented authors who answer the question, “What if God existed?”