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Religion plays a large part in the lives of most people. What role, if any, does religion play in science fiction?

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Postby UrbanSpaceman » Sun Oct 16, 2005 3:03 pm

The Holy Machine by Chris Beckett brings, as far as I know, a totally original slant to the sub-genre of "theological SF". Unless someone knows better?
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Postby IsomorphicReflection » Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:06 pm

I find it interesting that when religion was mentioned people imediatly assumed christian, there are infact many other religions then just christianity. Many of the pagan religions are touched on in sf...

I think a quote from Dune sums up the meeting of science and religion so well ~

"Men, finding no answers to the sunnan [the ten thousand religious questions from the Shari-ah] now apply their own reasoning. All men seek to be enlightened. Religion is but the most ancient and honorable way in which men have striven to make sense out of God's universe. Scientists seek the lawfulness of events. It is the task of Religion to fit man into this lawfulness."
"We elves are apt to go mad - wonderfully, gloriously mad, but mad all the same" Elderst, Christopher Paolini
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Re: reason and religion

Postby Guest » Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:40 am

hegemon wrote:I suspect the real reason for so little religion in sf is that religion makes no sense. To extend the religion of the present day into the far future would seem as silly as extending the table manners of the present day into the far future.


But, how much of the "science" in science fiction really makes sense? From Wells' anti-gravity substance "cavorite" to faster-than-light "warp drives" in Star Trek, SF authors have cheerfully subordinated the laws of physics to the demands of plot. And then again, how much real science nowadays makes sense to anyone apart from a handful of professors?
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Eggheads

Postby admin » Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:30 am

I suppose I should confess that I am one of the "professors" to whom science makes sense.
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Stories with religious themes

Postby The Thunder Child » Sun Nov 06, 2005 1:27 am

The Star, by Arthur C. Clarke, is another story with a religious them.


Spoiler.....



A Jesuit priest has his faith sorely tried when he realizes that the remnants of a dead civilization existed around a star that went supernova - and it was this supernova that people on Earth saw as the star of Bethlehem.

Isaac Asimov's The Last Question can be said to have a religious theme - computer as God....

There's a novel I read a long time ago, and darn if I can remember the title...about Earthlings who arrive on a planet which to them seems backward, they go about helping the inhabitants who have some kind of religion...using smiley faces....in any event, once the inhabitants have learned our technology they decide to take over Earth and force *their* religion on us.
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Postby Sherry » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:15 am

I'm only guessing, based on how I write myself. If I'm attempting to write something 'sf' then I'm thinking about a strange world, usually in the future, and I'm imagining how something that is totally impossible today is commonplace in this world. There is probably some machine, or tool, or weapon, or object that freezes time, or dissolves people, etc. Morality may play a big part in one or two characters, but religion seems to be a an unnecessary 'additional' element for this fantastical world. Often, there is so much going on in sf that adding religion would be like another subplot that would complicate the plot instead of move it along. However, there are sf stories involving religion that work just fine, such as, "The Sparrow."
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zelazny

Postby aenimax » Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:16 am

read the lord of light by roger zelazny and enjoy religion in sf! a fine example and a classic one!
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creating a believable society

Postby hegemon » Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:25 am

Since every human society has a religion, alien societies that don't -- or that have some mumbo jumbo about high priests and temples without any denseness or texture -- seem to me like cardboard props rather than lived in worlds. If an alien society does not have a religion, that needs to be explained.
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Re: creating a believable society

Postby Sherry » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:06 am

hegemon wrote:Since every human society has a religion, alien societies that don't -- or that have some mumbo jumbo about high priests and temples without any denseness or texture -- seem to me like cardboard props rather than lived in worlds. If an alien society does not have a religion, that needs to be explained.


Wouldn't it depend on the type of SF? I don't recall religion being an issue in Aliens. Technical sf, based on known scientific fact, still has to stretch known fact to be an entertaining story IMO. Otherwise, we might as well be reading textbooks. Yawn.
Alfred Hitchcock's Mys. Mag., Black Gate, Book of Dark Wisdom, Cemetery Dance, "Hook House & Other Horrors" Silver Lake Publishers, Editor/Pub. Indigenous Fiction
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Postby Sherry » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:26 am

I should give an example other than Alien. In Jurassic Park the author went into extensive detail about the missing DNA - page after page of scientific data. I understand the need to explain it, but I think it could have been condensed considerably, like they did for the movie. I remember thinking, okay Mr. Crichton, we appreciate the fact that you did EXTENSIVE research, but most of us don't want to read it. Fantastic SF is supposed to be fun AND make us think. Readers enjoy thinking, 'what if' even if it's pretty fantastic and stretches the science a bit far. Personally, I don't want a bunch of technical data to support an imaginary story. But of course there should be stories with data, for those who do enjoy it; I'm a fast reader and I can skim through that.
Alfred Hitchcock's Mys. Mag., Black Gate, Book of Dark Wisdom, Cemetery Dance, "Hook House & Other Horrors" Silver Lake Publishers, Editor/Pub. Indigenous Fiction
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Crihton

Postby admin » Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:58 pm

Michael Crihton is not very good at integrating his science and his story. Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke, on the other hand, know how to mix science and story seemlessly and painlessly. And Heinlein's treatment of alien religions, in Mathusela's Children and Double Star for example, add a lot to the stories. Whether you believe in God or not, religion stirs powerful emotions.
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Postby jdalton » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:46 pm

Orson Scott Card does a very good job of fitting religion (and the consequences of a government dead-set against it) into Ender's Game. Apparently his later books get a bit religion-heavy. I don't know, I haven't read them yet.

Ursula LeGuin's Hainish books are thick with wonderful anthropology, and because she's trying to create believable alien(-ish) cultures, religion always plays some sort of role.

Authors who are more interested in theoretic twists of society than theoretical twists of technology are naturally much more likely to write about religion. I put myself in the former group. I know jack about technology.

Jonathon Dalton
A Mad Tea-Party
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Re: classics

Postby slovenec » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:30 am

admin wrote:While most sf avoids or ignores the subject, the few religious sf stories that have appeared in print have garnered many awards and honors. "The Quest of St. Aquin" by Anthony Boucher, "The Nine Million Names of God" by Arthur C. Clark, "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter Miller, Jr., "A Case of Conscience" by James Blish, and, of course, all of the science fiction and fantasy of C. S. Lewis come to mind. What other great religious sf stories have there been? And why is most sf so resolutely secular?


The most moving religious SF story I can think of was Poul Anderson's "The Problem of Pain".
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Re: Change

Postby SaintLucifer » Tue Feb 21, 2006 6:15 pm

hegemon wrote:Christianity has changed so much in the last 2000 years that if Christ returned today, he would not believe the people who call themselves Christians had anything to do with him.

Christ said, blessed are the poor. Modern Christians favor tax breaks for the rich.

Christ said, turn the other cheek. Modern Christians teach hate and favor a war that involves rape, murder, and torture.

Christ said, judge not lest ye be judged. Modern Christians do little else but judge other people.

Christ said, pray silently, or you're a hypocrite. Modern Christians are in favor of public prayer in the schools.

On the other hand, modern Christians rave about sex, birth control, "dirty" words, and abortion, subjects on which Christ said absolutely nothing.

Yeah, I know, there are a lot of good, quiet Christians out there, but you never see them on tv or talk radio.


This guy must be Muslim. *ROTFLMAO*
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Postby Socvehces » Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:34 am

Sick.
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