Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The issues in “The Star” relate to the concept of theodicy, which is an attempt to answer the question of the problem of evil that is summed up by three statements: God is good, God is omnipotent or omniscient, and there is evil. The last statement is the easiest to prove and is usually accepted as a given. If God is good, but not omnipotent, he wants to stop evil, but cannot. If God is omnipotent, but not good, he could stop evil, but does not choose to do so. The Judeo-Christian ethic, however, sees God as both good and omnipotent, so some other answer for the existence of evil is necessary. One theodicy is that God has no need to justify himself to humanity; that humanity’s free will causes evil is another. Most religious people accept a theodicy that allows them to reconcile their faith in God with the tragic events of everyday life.
The unnamed narrator of “The Star” claims to have reached a point at which his faith is shaken. The nova’s date will not be ignored by either his shipmates or his fellow scientists back on Earth, nor can he himself ignore it. He recognizes God’s mystery, but can no longer accept it on faith; he has been driven to question all that he had believed.
One may speculate, however, that the Jesuit has not thoroughly lost his faith because the last lines of the story are a plea, almost a prayer, to the God he has tried to claim he no longer accepts. A test of faith may not be the same thing as a loss of...
(The entire section is 332 words.)
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Religion and Science
The most important theme in ‘‘The Star’’ is the opposition of religion and science. The reader is presented with a very religious narrator who has his faith seriously shaken. The narrator has long attempted to show that science and religion are compatible. He believed that science affirms the existence of God and helps humanity to appreciate the dependence of science on the intricacies of God’s ultimate plan. A large part of his faith was founded in the belief that humankind achieved redemption from sin through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the narrator calculates that the explosion of the supernova, wiping out an entire sentient, human-like race, was the star of Bethlehem, he is thrown into doubt. How can he reconcile his believe that God created all things with the knowledge that God annihilated this planet and its people in order to signal the redemption of the human race on Earth? Does it mean that the creator values certain of his creations over others? He fears that his findings will further convince a largely irreligious public that the universe is, in fact, random and not the work of an all-knowing, caring, and loving God.
An important theme in ‘‘The Star’’ is the idea of homocentrism: that humankind is the center of the universe and the reason for all of creation. This concept embodies the idea that the universe revolves...
(The entire section is 344 words.)