It is only when one tries to answer such questions as Who is God? and What is the meaning of life? with science that one runs into a conflict. Such questions are rightly left to theology because science cannot answer them without abandoning the scientific method and becoming a faith unto itself.
With that preamble, let me call your attention to this video, which is rare footage of an oarfish in the wild (fast forward to about the 3:30 mark to get a good look):
Although this deep water fish looks tiny in the video, the reality is that these fish can be anywhere from 15-56 feet long. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that the oarfish is the source of various sea serpent stories from times of yore. As can be seen from the video, the reality is much less frightening than humanity’s ability to imagine the monstrous.
This got me thinking about a way to re-skin the concept of Turning. While the origin of the mechanic is the image of Van Helsing keeping Dracula at bay with a cross, another way of understanding the mechanic is akin to the video above — stripping away the monstrous imagining of humanity to reveal the mundane reality.
I come to this from the perspective of both the classic D&D trope of the (Chaotic) Wilderness vs. (Lawful) Civilization as well as the idea that monsters are sin personified. In a world where sin becomes manifest as all the dark imaginings of humanity from myth and story, the Christian (as the champion of Lawful Civilization) becomes the mechanism by which the Chaotic Wilderness is tamed by revealing the mundane by stripping away the demonic.
Thus, when a party encounters a group of zombies which are successfully Turned by the party’s cleric, the supposed undead (rather than running away) are revealed to merely be dead bodies, carvings on a wall or an unusual shadow cast by torch light; however, lower level clerics are unable to completely convince or control the dark and fallen imagination of either themselves or their party members. Thus, the zombies will eventually return until such time that the cleric can “destroy” them by having faith in the God who declared His creation very good.
The cleric, in other words, becomes the video camera that reveals that ancient seas serpents are actually oarfish.
One interesting consequence of this re-skinning is the possibility with such a set-up that the Mythic Underground and the Dungeon-as-semi-intelligent-NPC are actually creations of our own making — manifestations of our own sins and fears.