The Star by Arthur C Clarke
What is the narrator's profession (both of them)? How are they in conflict with each other? How do we know that?
One of the most interesting facts about the narrator of the story The Star by Arthur C Clarke is the combination of the professions he is devoted to. According to Gahr, The story is written in the form of the journal of a Jesuit priest and lead astrophysics on a mission to explore the phoenix nebula. Thus, on the one hand, the narrator is a Jesuit priest who should not have any doubts about the Gods existence, His wisdom, rationality and universal power. On the other hand, he is an astrophysicist, a member of the research team which consists of the deeply committed atheists whose arguments in the disputes concerning the religion seem to be more convincible and rational than the narrators ones. Therefore, the narrator has to experience the internal conflict of two professionals which are combined in one person and cannot find the compromise. However, the image of the narrator is much deeper than an image of the particular man who remains in the state of the internal contradiction between his personal commitments. As Oates states, The fact that the narrator remains nameless identifies him with humanity as a whole rather than one, specific man. His emotional response to the knowledge he gains becomes as universal as his findings.
Thus, being the reflection of the main purpose of the majority of human beings, the initial purpose of the narrator, in accordance with Oates, is to establish that science proves the existence of God. However, the narrator finds the remainders of the ancient civilization similar to the Earth, which was destroyed by their sun. The narrator does not understand why, if God actually exists, he eliminated the whole race which, as it was confirmed by the documentation, did not do any evil and was not guilty of anything. Why, if God is the highest indicator of wisdom, omnipotence and justice, he did not choose another star, on which the races life was not dependent, to explode? This question makes the narrators belief in God teeter because, as the article "The Star": Arthur C. Clarke and the Conflict Between Science and Religion states, our scientific knowledge about astronomy sometimes makes it hard for us to see a divine plan in nature.
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However, the narrator decides that the findings of his expedition cannot finally reject the existence of God. As Oates states, the narrator does not deny the fact of Gods existence but He acknowledges faiths enduring possibility though the parameters of his own faith have been restructured. In the end, the narrator is not questioning faith, but rather what faith means for human kind within the universe (Oates). The above mentioned statement can be confirmed by the words of the narrator: Yet, of course, what we have seen proves nothing of the sort. Anyone who argues thus is being swayed by emotion, not logic. God has no need to justify His actions to man. He who built the Universe can destroy it when He chooses. It is arrogance, it is perilously near blasphemy for us to say what He may or may not do.
However, the narrator cannot bear with the fact that God may destruct something without any rational reason, but only because of his wanton will. The narrator still does not lose his faith, but obtains some doubts about the fact that God is no longer at the center of all things including religion.
Therefore, there can be made a conclusion that one of the main ideas of the analyzed story is to show the contradiction between the religious commitment and scientific knowledge within the humans minds being based on the example of the narrator who combines two professions: the priest and the scientist. His inner conflict is the excellent illustration of the controversy within the humans minds about the issue whether the science is able to disprove the existence of God. The narrators inner conflict results not in the rejection of God, but in the doubts whether Gods actions are based really on the inviolate wisdom and justice. Therefore, the author does not give the absolutely comprehensive answer to the question whether God exists. Similarly, the humanity still is thinking over this question and has not found the answer. In addition, the author ends his story with the question What was the need to give these people to the fire, that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem? That means that he does not put the final point in the discussion between knowledge and religion, and it should be our personal choice whether to believe in God or not.