The Three-Body Problem

up:: Books


Review / Reflection

I intentionally set out to read a book translated from Chinese to experience fiction written in a different cultural context. My hopes were more than fulfilled! The plot, the characters, the language was different than what I was used to and it was a privilege to dive into it.

The whole book resolves around what is essentially a physics problem. That was a really interesting approach. It also goes into existential, religious questions (Man’s three basic questions) of worldview: Is humanity good or bad? Can it be redeemed and how? Should it be redeemed? This makes it ripe to engage with, loosely using the framework of How to engage with any cultural text.

One character invents an ideology that becomes an antagonistic force throughout the book:

“Pan-Species Communism. It’s an ideology I invented. Or maybe you can call it a faith. Its core belief is that all species on Earth are created equal.”

Given the current cultural climate, there are people who would actually subscribe to this narrrative. Not that humans are set-apart Image bearers with special authority and responsibility. But that all species are the same. This book takes this idea to its natural conclusion: Humanity is a scourge that needs to be reformed, no matter the cost:

“Our ideal is to invite Trisolaran civilization to reform human civilization, to curb human madness and evil, so that the Earth can once again become a harmonious, prosperous, sinless world.”

This ideology recognises human sin and wickedness but looks to an extraterrestrial force, rather than Christ, as judge and saviour. It mirrors the biblical story of the fall, that something went terribly wrong and that humanity is broken. The outlook however is pessimistic: There is no hope for redemption for humanity. Since “all species on Earth are created equal” and humanity inflicts the greatest harm it needs to be annihilated. Without Christ, there is no grace in judgement. Humans turn against one another.

I think this book speaks to our current situation: A greater awareness (amplified in part by Global warming) of the fact that We are called to care for creation gets twisted into ideologies that resemble the fictional “Pan-Species Communism”. When we divorce our task to care for creation from our identity as set-apart Image bearers (and the hope in Christ sovereign), we become desperate.

This book vividly shows that our desperation can turn antagonistic: It can lead us to see the solution not in faith and action in and through Christ but condemning humanity to annihilation.