Wednesday, March 26, 2008

MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?

Very proud to have had a hand in today's Mind Meld, which asks "Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?"

The short answer is "of course not." But the long answer is fascinating, particularly as described by Adam Roberts, John C. Wright, and James Morrow. (And what I wouldn't give to see these three guys debate the topic on a panel at a con somewhere.)

Here's a sample from Morrrow: "To the degree that science fiction is the literature spun from human insights into the laws of nature, then it is indeed the last place a person should look for corroboration of the Christian worldview or any other frankly religious perspective. For better or worse - better, in my opinion - science has yet to provide a single molecule of evidence for the supernatural, and so far every attempt to make the empirical substantiate the ethereal, from the laboratory testing of the Shroud of Turin to the crude appropriation of particle physics by various self-styled mystics, has come to nothing. How appropriate that I should be composing this essay in the shadow of the death of Arthur C. Clarke, who spent so much of his creative energy reminding us that neither conventional theists nor 'New Age nitwits,' as he called them, will find any genuine comfort in science qua science.

"As always, however, the gritty observable is more complicated than the airy ontological. One thinks immediately of Michael Bishop, Gene Wolfe, and Orson Scott Card, three unapologetic Christians who've written novels and stories that are manifestly science fiction. No sane critic would argue that any of these authors has betrayed the genre's heritage or compromised the integrity of his artistic vision by filtering it through a spiritual persuasion - indeed, I suspect that something like the opposite is true for Bishop, Wolfe, and Card: their faith may give their fiction its edge."


Praetorian1001 said...

Thanks for this.


David B. Ellis said...

Is science fiction antithetical to religion?

In and of itself, probably not.

But the critical, evidence-demanding approach that science brings to the world has led more than a few science-lovers with a religious upbringing to become skeptical of religious claims (myself included).

And since science-lovers are also frequently science-fiction lovers it should be no great surprise that there is a greater proportion of skeptics among both SF writers and readers alike.