Here's the Prologue to the story:
A twelve year-old girl walking on the street near her home, in mid-afternoon, suddenly vanishes, the victim of an apparent abduction. Her disappearance sets off a chain of events which form the narrative recounted in the following pages, but before entering into that story it might be worth asking why men perpetrate such horrors. How do we explain human depravity? How can we account for the fact that moral evil seems so commonplace?Bridging the Abyss addresses some of the same themes as my previous novel In the Absence of God and is something of a companion volume to that earlier work. Like Absence, Bridging is an apologetic for Christian theism, but it's more than that. It's also a novel that raises some serious ethical questions, but I don't want to say too much about the story because I prefer that the reader decide for him or herself what lessons to take from it.
In 1948 philosopher W.T. Stace wrote an article for The Atlantic Monthly, a portion of which serves, perhaps, as a partial answer to these questions. Writing about the shift in the 17th century from a theistic to a materialist worldview which entailed the belief that there were no purposes or final causes in nature, Stace says:“This, though silent and almost unnoticed, was the greatest revolution in human history, far outweighing in importance any of the political revolutions whose thunder has reverberated around the world….Bridging the Abyss should be read as a companion to my earlier novel In the Absence of God. Both are stories of people living in the wake of the revolution of which Stace speaks. They both offer a picture of a small slice of modern life, a glimpse of what it is to exist in a world in which people live consistently, though perhaps unwittingly, with the assumptions of modernity, chief among which is the assumption that God, if there is one, is irrelevant to our lives.
"The world, according to this new picture, is purposeless, senseless, meaningless. Nature is nothing but matter in motion. The motions of matter are governed, not by any purpose, but by blind forces and laws….[But] if the scheme of things is purposeless and meaningless, then the life of man is purposeless and meaningless too.
Everything is futile, all effort is in the end worthless. A man may, of course, still pursue disconnected ends - money, fame, art, science - and may gain pleasure from them. But his life is hollow at the center.
"Hence, the dissatisfied, disillusioned, restless spirit of modern man….Along with the ruin of the religious vision there went the ruin of moral principles and indeed of all values….If our moral rules do not proceed from something outside us in the nature of the universe - whether we say it is God or simply the universe itself - then they must be our own inventions.
"Thus it came to be believed that moral rules must be merely an expression of our own likes and dislikes. But likes and dislikes are notoriously variable. What pleases one man, people, or culture, displeases another. Therefore, morals are wholly relative."
Having marginalized the God of traditional theism moderns find themselves shorn of any objective basis for forming moral judgments, for hope that the deep human yearning for justice could ever be satisfied, or for finding any ultimate meaning in the existence of the human species as a whole, or in the life of the individual in particular.
Moderns dispense with God and believe that life can go on as before, or even better than before, but this is a conceit which the sanguinary history of the 19th and 20th century confutes. A world that has abandoned God has abandoned the fountain of goodness, beauty, and truth as well as the only possible ground for belief in objective human rights or in the dignity of the individual.
Modernity has in many ways been a blessing, but it has also been a curse. History will ultimately decide whether the blessing has outweighed the curse. Meanwhile, Bridging the Abyss sketches the tension between these competing views of the world as they're illustrated by the lives of the characters who inhabit these pages.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Both Bridging the Abyss and In the Absence of God are available at Amazon (paperback $15.99; kindle $7.99) Barnes and Noble (paperback and nook) and perhaps the best bookstore in northeastern North America, Hearts and Minds. I hope you'll read it, and if you do, I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, I hope you'll tell others about it via your Facebook page and other social media.