Dr. David Powers, who I mention in this post, is continuing the other half of this discussion on his blog. Here is the link to his page. Dr. David Powers – http://coffeescholar.wordpress.com/
I’m a sci-fi nut. Seriously, if I didn’t have to ever work again, I would likely spend my time watching sci-fi on TV, reading sci-fi, and writing more sci-fi novels. I’d be lucky to get out of bed. Why do I love science fiction? We all have our reasons, but I love that it envisions something other than what is here. I have a degree in political science. Talk about a quick way to get depressed about reality. Turn on CNN or Fox News and you get pounded with stories about how bad everything is and how its the fault of one political party or another. Sure, I recognize there are important things we have to take care of, but sometimes I want to transport somewhere else. That’s what science fiction does for me. It allows me to read and write about things that help others forget, if only for a little while, about the mess here on Earth.
Before I delve into a potentially explosive theological issue, I should disclose that I am by no means qualified to write about anything religious. It has taken me years to open my heart to Christ and it has been a recent development. I essentially know nothing.
So, what do we have to talk about? When I was teaching, religion was a touchy subject. In the public school system, the topic becomes the third rail in which you just don’t touch. I’m fine with that, but I know many that aren’t. I did get to talk to some students that were worried about their biology class. They worried because the concepts and issues that they had to learn contradicted their beliefs. Since this blog rotates around writing, I won’t get into my views on science more than saying that I was actually a science major in school for two years (before I realized how much I hated physical oceanography). I mention the science and religion issues because I think there are some parallels to religion and science fiction.
Look at the major themes in science fiction: space, aliens, time travel, habitable planets, warp speed, the afterlife, etc. Every science fiction show I have watched has some element that is contradictory to any number of religious beliefs.
Let’s look at some questions that are meant to make you uncomfortable, no matter which God you worship. My love of science fiction almost demands that these questions be asked when facing my Christianity (Please don’t take these questions as my challenging your religion(s). I am challenging myself more than anything).
- The galaxy is bigger than any of us can begin to comprehend, so how could we possibly be the only planet with life?
- If there is other life out there, which every statistical probability would say there is, who put it there? If God did, is it the same one that you believe in?
- So you believe in Genesis, huh? If God created the Earth and everything on it in six days, does that make us gods for writing about terraforming on other planets? (Looking at you Trekkies and Whovians)
- On that note, how many days did it take God to create those other planets? Do you even believe there are other planets out there? (I ask because many people don’t believe the dinosaur fossils are real)
- If God created us in his image, who’s image are Klingons created after? Wookies? Vulcans? The Q Continuum? (Now there’s a loaded one)
- If we leave the planet and expand, as so much of sci-fi portrays, then will Revelation only affect Earth?
Those are just some of the many questions I have though of. I’m positive you have some of your own.
If you are a fan of any series of sci-fi shows, you will have noticed that each of them undoubtedly brushes the ideas of religion. Try as they might to not slander any religion, they almost have to question the beliefs without saying that’s what they are doing.
There have been plenty of science fiction authors and creators that have dabbled in what is obviously a faith based concept. Lost, one of the most popular shows in the last decade, made it abundantly clear that the whole show revolved around spirituality.
There are a few routes that I think science fiction fans can take regarding this topic.
- Don’t worry about your religious beliefs while you are watching and reading the material. It is, by definition, fiction and you are allowed to treat it as such.
- Pose the same questions above to yourself and (uh oh) to your spiritual confidant. Let’s face it, if is hard to watch and enjoy the genre without wondering if what they present could be true. By doing so, the next logical step it to face your beliefs.
- Pull out your Bible (Torah, Koran) and try to wipe your mind of all science fiction. Ask for forgiveness for ever enjoying such things. Turn on Touched by an Angel reruns.
My great friend and mentor, Dr. David Powers, is also a sci-fi crazy. Seriously, check out his blog here. He owns one of the largest private collections of comic books on the East Coast. He eats, sleeps, and breaths all things sci-fi. Here is the kicker – he is also my pastor. On the surface, this may not seem to be a contradiction, but the way I see it, it certainly could be. He is not one to shy away from potential contradictions. Somewhere you will find a photo of him at the Myrtle Beach Xcon convention leading the Sunday service in the middle of the floor. Click this sentence to check out his response and, as I see it, a continuation of the discussion (There is also a link to his blog at the top).
The title of this blog post tells you where I am on the topic. I am trying to reconcile my Christian beliefs (which are infantile and growing) with my love of this genre. I want nothing more than to jump on a colonial ship and head out of the galaxy to explore, but I wonder if just wanting such things makes me less of a Christian. What if I run into an alien with a different god?
Please join in the discussion in the comments section. I would love to know what some of you think about this. (Be respectful…I don’t feel like putting my comments on moderation)