I write about science fiction time travel as an adult, but my interest in this subject began back in my younger days. Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), the Russian-born American author, had a major influential upon me. Asimov’s legendary Foundation trilogy owned my heart and soul as I was growing up.
But I must credit his 1955 time travel novel, The End of Eternity for redirecting my young life. What fascinated me as a young kid about The End of Eternity was how Asimov not only explained in an understandable way the unfathomable concept of eternity, but also how this one novel could so completely knock my concept of life sideways.
Roman Catholic View of Time
This novel gave me an adult’s kind of philosophy that most teenagers never embrace. Simply put, I became persuaded that what the Roman Catholic Church was teaching me about eternal life was bullshit.
The Roman Catholic view of time was fundamentally flawed, in my humble opinion. Asimov’s novel opened my eyes to a basic inequity: Would an almighty deity be smart if he allowed a world in which a person could merit eternal life in Heaven (reward) or Hell (punishment) with only a life of about 70 or 80 years? At least looking at the reward side, an almighty deity who gives you an eternity of reward in exchange for merely 70 or 80 years of being a good person would essentially be giving away something of great value in exchange for your giving him something considerably less valuable.
Since eternity is so vastly more than a mere 70 or 80 years of an average lifetime, one person’s lifetime cannot possibly be compared in value to the value of eternity. Unless, of course, God is illogical and imprecise. Isn’t God supposed to be the ultimate in perfection? How can perfection be valued unless it is at least logical and precise?
It’s All In The Math
Ultimately, the mathematical comparison that The End of Eternity compelled me to make comparisons between the average human being’s lifetime and the idea of eternal reward in Heaven taught me immediately to stop buying into the Roman Catholic view of life. The math just did not add up for me (and it still doesn’t), so in my teenage years I rejected the concept of eternal reward in Heaven along with the concept of eternal punishment in Hell. I found that I could not trust in God if he chose to treat human beings so illogically and subjectively. How could I trust God since the mathematical comparison of eternity to an average lifespan was so out of balance? Wasn’t religion (especially The One True Church, as Roman Catholicism was billed in those glorious days before political correctness) designed to give balance to human life here on Earth?
And No Religion, Too
Well, years later, about the time that I had reached the ripe old age of 21, John Lennon dared to write Imagine, a song that offered a profound view of life in which religion was not necessary for human life to survive. I found his perspective refreshing and I still do today. I have come to believe that humans likely invented God in their own image rather than the other way around. For me, accepting what the Roman Catholic Church has taught for centuries about life and reality required suspending my acceptance of logic and mathematics. Those are two things that I just cannot disavow in favor of putting my faith into an unseen deity somewhere up in the skies.
The World I Invented
For my own science fiction time travel writing, I invented a world in which time travel agents go back to repair timelines. This is my homage to Asimov and to The End of Eternity. I created a world in my novel Rough Time Treks Gay Men where timelines in the past must be repaired by agents who change history to stave off chaos from overtaking humanity.
I don’t suppose that one could found a religion based upon such an invented science fiction world as I have created. But, creating a religion out of science fiction (such as L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology) stands as the best proof anyone needs how God and religion were, indeed, invented by people to serve their own selfish goals such as making money. Right at this moment, I can almost hear the voices of the Roman Catholic nuns of my youth replaying in my ears. They are assuring me there’s a special place in Hell for people like me with such contrary views.
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