In the 1950s, the John C. Winston Company, later to become part of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, published “Adventures in Science Fiction,” a series of juvenile hardcover novels that made up a collection of thirty six books. Some of the world’s greatest science fiction writers got their start with the series: Arthur C. Clarke, best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ben Bova, Lester Del Rey, Donald Wollheim, and Poul Anderson. The books carried an original price of $2.00. Today, depending on condition, the price of a first edition with an unclipped dust jacket can range between $75.00 and $500.00. In addition to the wonderful stories, the books are worth collecting for the cover art. While the books are dated in terms of technology (the use of computers is minimal),[1] the stories reflect life in post-World War II America with some helpful worldview illustrations.

Here’s an example from Paul Dallas’ The Lost Planet, a story about how two teenagers avert a war between their home planets. The scene takes place around the dinner table in the home of General Watkins. War is the topic, a war between Earth and the planet Poseida. No matter what comes in the details of war, there are fundamental principles that will always apply:

“As he spoke, the general seemed to become preoccupied with thoughts of the military situation, and he absently deployed salt and pepper shakers with knives and forks on the table, setting up in front of him an imaginary military problem in the field. ‘It is a basic truism,’ he continued, ‘that wherever possible the best defense is a good offense. Now if we are attacked,’ and he brought a piece of silverware in toward the plate that was obviously representing Planet Earth, ‘not only do we defend the point under immediate attack but,’ and here several pieces were quickly moved from the plate Earth to the butter dish from which the attack had originated, ‘we immediately counterattack at the source of the aggression. After all, if you cut off the head, you have no need to fear the arms.’”[2]

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Dallas has General Watkins making an important point on the topic of defense and ultimate victory that can be used quite well to describe the Christian apologist’s task and method in defending the Christian faith. As we will see, the best defense, no matter how well conceived in theory, requires an effective offensive strategy that goes to the heart (head) of the opposition.

Defending the Christian worldview against unbelieving thought takes understanding that each and every worldview has a centralized guiding principle that serves as the head that directs belief and action to the arms and legs. By going after the head, as David did with Goliath, the attacking opposition dies, no matter how strong and effective the arms and legs are. Christians have a tendency to attack symptoms, the rotten fruit of unbelieving thought, rather than the root that gives life to the tree. The Bible tells us, “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees” with the result that the “every tree. . . that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 3:10).

Christians begin with the presupposition that God created the universe and created man as a special creation different in kind from both inanimate and other animate creations. In fact, man is so special, the Bible tells us, that he is the very “image of God” (Gen. 1:27). One of these image attributes is the existence of the mind and the ability to think rationally (Col. 3:10) and to act with a moral sense (Eph. 4:24). The consistent materialist who denies God also denies the existence of the mind. For materialistic philosophers, the mind is an “illusion.” In their words, “the brain is a machine. We have no selves, no souls. How do they know? Well, it’s just a matter of faith.”[3] In the words of Fox Mulder, we’re nothing more than “electrical [impulses] and chemical[s] through a bag of meat and bones.”[4]

[1] Wilson Tucker, who has been writing science fiction since the 1930s, makes an interesting observation: “To my knowledge, not a single writer of the early era foresaw email or the introduction of the internet concept. We were busy with variations of the telephone—radio phones, picture phones and the like. Yes, we missed the boat.”
[2] From Paul Dallas, The Lost Planet (Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Company, 1956), 3. [3] David Gelman, et al. “Is the Mind an Illusion?,” Newsweek (April 20, 1992), 71. [4] “Kill Switch,” X-File (Season 5, Episode 11).