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Science Fiction and Religion

Science Fiction and Religion

Paul Davies observation that “science is now in the position of telling us more about God than religion” raises some interesting issues. One possible reaction would be that when science can tell us about God, it is hardly distinguishable from religion. Certainly religion has long employed images and speculations which very much anticipate, parallel, and influence themes found in science fiction. From the journeys of Gilgamesh to the nuking of Sodom and Gomorrah, from the “spacecraft” in Ezekiel to cataclysmic apocalypses envisioned a thousand times over, religion and science fiction merge to form imaginative scenarios of the origins, proclivities, essences, possible futures, and destinies of mankind. Explorations of what it is to be human are juxtaposed with alien encounters or Artificial Intelligences aspiring for meaning and identity. In the recent remake of  “The Day the Earth Stood Still” humanity stands in judgment for its near technological eclipse of the balance of nature whereas in the original version it was the entrance into the Nuclear Age and the creation of the Atomic Bomb that brought the extra-terrestrial scrutiny. From Jules Vernes’ techno-future forecasts to H.G. Wells self-experimenting scientists defying nature, Isaac Asimov’s robots longing to be human, Ray Bradbury’s moralizing fables, Kurt Vonnegut’s social satire and humanist wisdom, Phillip K. Dick’s social/political critiques, William Gibson’s cyberpunk, buck-the-system counter-cultural anti-hero heroism, Neal Stephenson’s intricate post-cyberpunk baroque-like inter-weavings of history, technology, linguistics, philosophy, and religion to myriad multiple varieties of themes and variations scattered across a vast spectrum of contemporary science fiction writings.

So, for this the forum I want you to think about the relationship of science fiction to religion. What role does it play as metaphysician, prophet, or icon? How do you count for its huge popularity? You are free to use any examples of the genre. You might want to think about such movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Mission to Mars, Contact, The Matrix, X-Menor, such T.V. shows as The Twilight Zone, The X Files, Lost, Terminator and/or Star Trek, among others. How does you selection reflect the genre? In what ways is it undergirded by or reflect religious paradigms? The Wikipedia Article on Science Fiction Film (Links to an external site.) may be of some help to you. As well, you may want to consult your text on The Gospel According to Science Fiction.Relationship Between Science Fiction and Religion

Speculative fiction, popularly known as Science fiction exhibits some shared ideologies with religion and has risen to replace some religious explanations to various phenomena. However, the close ties between religion and Science Fiction have not been universally accepted as some religious critics still view it as an offense to religious doctrines. Science Fiction takes an interest in issues known to be of religious interest such as the nature of God, the composition of the universe and the nature of the soul. The genre has in the current world, surpassed religion in giving rich explanations about phenomena and grand questions that religion has been unable to address. Clearly, the link between religion and Science fiction is undergoing a revival. Works on the Science Fiction genre are increasingly incorporating religious ideologies and spiritual threads.

Science fiction films and television series since their inception have depicted much interest in religion through questioning good and evil, giving explanations about the afterlife, telling tales about the fate of the human race and the universe and portraying different deities. The Twilight Zone, among the earliest entries into television, in an earlier episode featured “A Nice Place to Visit” Hell. The Star Trek explores religious phenomena such as the concept of an afterlife, sin, and free will and martyrdom. The Matrix explores the life of a figure similar to Christ named Neo. The three examples imply that Science Fiction is embedded in religion and fundamental in the in-depth explanation of traditionally purely religious aspects. Science Fiction, is in this sense, an essential artistic genre which has the full potential of entirely replacing religion. It shapes the human understanding of critical modern phenomena such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence while still incorporating the popular religious views.

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