Religion Has No Place In Science Fiction

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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Re: tribes

Postby jdalton » Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:42 pm

hegemon wrote:Until the invention of birth control, there was no other option but to steal food from the tribe on the other side of the river, or starve due to overpopulation.

Some pre-modern cultures did have methods of population control- if primitive and not entirely effective ones. Native Americans used various techniques including periods of abstinence between married couples, herbally-induced abortion, human sacrifice (in some areas), or slavery (slaves, being overworked and unhealthy, tend not to increase the population). These are not necessarily very pleasant options, but without all those diseases wiping out the excess population and given that nomadic people can't afford to drag around as many kids as European farmers did, it at least introduced a few new options to augment the "fight or starve" approach.

I might even go so far as to call it an example of "vastly superior intellect and technology." At least they tried, huh?
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Organized religion up for grabs!

Postby Buglunch » Sun Apr 16, 2006 8:47 pm

The Aztecs religionned themselves out of existence with ritual sacrifice and not paying attention to corn's devastation of soils.

Of course, religion is a topic that will be in sf; sf covers all topics everywhere in its purview for discussion.
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Re: Organized religion up for grabs!

Postby jdalton » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:40 am

Buglunch wrote:The Aztecs religionned themselves out of existence with ritual sacrifice and not paying attention to corn's devastation of soils.

Um... no they didn't. The Aztec civilization was at its height and still expanding when the Spanish showed up. No matter how many people they brutally sacrificed, they never seemed to run out (though I suppose they would have eventually). And I always thought corn was a sustainable crop as long as you planted beans and squash along with it and rotated croplands every so often- both of which the Aztecs did (didn't they?)

It was the Mayans who brought environmental disaster on themselves by deforesting the Yucatan. But that had little to do with religion.
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Re: Crush Religion

Postby OranMor » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:28 pm

SaintLucifer said: <snip> MAO ZEDONG, JOSEPH STALIN and POL POT were all Communists. Their society was not developed based upon scientific principles. It was developed as a means to obtain and hold power. Religion attempts to gather all of humanity together and create a brotherhood under GOD. <snip>

Actually, I believe that religion, too, was developed as a means to obtain and hold power. The fact that no one can empirically prove the existence of a deity only reinforces that idea for me.

One of the best examples I know of that illustrates the use of religion to hold power--in a SF context, that is--is Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion books.
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commies

Postby admin » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:35 am

It is a mistake to confuse an economic system, communism, with a political system. There is no "communist" political system. (Maybe I should also mention that all modern societies have adopted the best parts of the communist system -- equality, civil rights, trade unions, and secularism -- and discarded the parts that didn't work -- nationalization of industry, a leader who "is" the worker in some mystical sense, the cult of personality.

As for religion uniting people, it seems to me that the only thing that religious people in power like better than killing those whose religion is different from their own is killing those within their own religion who cross themselves with three fingers instead of two.
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Re: commies

Postby jdalton » Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:09 pm

admin wrote: (Maybe I should also mention that all modern societies have adopted the best parts of the communist system -- equality, civil rights, trade unions, and secularism -- and discarded the parts that didn't work -- nationalization of industry, a leader who "is" the worker in some mystical sense, the cult of personality.

I wrote a whole rant once about how Western capitalist democracies saved themselves from communist revolution by stealing communism's best ideas (key example: the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike leading to the creation of the CCP party!) ...But now I can't remember where I posted it.

As for religion uniting people, it seems to me that the only thing that religious people in power like better than killing those whose religion is different from their own is killing those within their own religion who cross themselves with three fingers instead of two.

Sad but true. The Crusaders killed more Christians than they did Muslims, and modern Jihadists seem to blow up a lot more people in Iraq and Saudi Arabia than any Western country.
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Religion in SF

Postby sadisticon » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:20 pm

Wow
Sorry I'm late. I dislike religion, but I really enjoy the idea of a universal 'justicier', a super being that can make and enforce laws. Unfortunately we have only ourselves. Science Fiction brilliantly attacks the questions of the existence of superior beings and the right of those beings to rule over us. Science Fiction also examines the responsibility of a super being to those who are not so endowed. Usually as a metaphor for the rights of the powerless and the duties of the powerful.
I think religion does belong to Science Fiction because (please don't beat me) religion is Science Fiction. (okay beat me -)
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religion

Postby admin » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:19 am

I agree that religion belongs in sf, but not because religion is sf. Where's the science? Rather, since religion is part of every human society, a future society without religion seems unlikely. Readers seem to agree. Many award winners, Paladin of Souls for a recent example, have a lot of religion in them.
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religion

Postby hegemon » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:25 am

Maybe future societies will outgrow religion? It is hard enough to believe in a God who, in the olden days, demanded animal sacrifices. If we do meet aliens, and find their religions entirely different from ours, but just as unlikely, we'll give up the whole thing as a bad idea, on a par with belief in the tooth fairy.
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Postby pablo » Tue Aug 29, 2006 6:18 pm

If we do meet aliens, and find their religions entirely different from ours, but just as unlikely, we'll give up the whole thing as a bad idea, on a par with belief in the tooth fairy.


Reminds me of "Calculating God" by Robert J. Sawyer. In the novel - over the course of many pages - an alien theorizes that God MUST exist as such an entity is the only plausible explanation that supports the existence of carbon-based life.
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God?

Postby hegemon » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:40 am

This is what old Tom Jefferson believed. But essentially, the reasoning goes as follows. There is something we don't understand. It must have some explanation. Let's agree to call that unknown explanation "God".

It's a long way from Jefferson's God to the old man with a long white beard who loves us and answers our prayers and sends us to either heaven or hell when we die. In fact, you can't get there from here!
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Just look at Sci-Fi Channel Shows

Postby RulkeTheCharon » Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:26 am

The three latest crop of Sci-Fi channel shows all have very deep threads of religion going through them: Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, and BattlestarGalactica.

The common theme seems to be that what people call "Gods" are really just much more advanced beings that posess powers that mere lowly lifeforms will interpret as God-Like.

Stargate SG-1, now has the Ori which are advanced beings that gain power from whole planets praying to them and worshiping them. They must destroy all unbelievers since they sap energy from themselves, and help the enemy.
Atlantis of course have the atlantians, which have shed bodies and are existing on higher plane like gods, but are disinterested in affairs of mortals anymore. They are hands off Gods observing us ants in the ant-hill, while Ori are slave drivers forcing you to worship them.
Also SG1 previously had Gouuld creatures that used technologies to enslave humans as egyptian Gods of past (e.g. Ra, Osiris, etc).

The most complex is Battlestar Galactica, where humankind exists in a world worshiping multiple Gods, while the Cylons machines worship a single true God. And of course Cylons are trying to cure humans of their mistake by making them worship their true one cylon god.

All of this I am sure this audience already know. But just showing that there is a way to weave religion and religious themes and principles into Sci-Fi shows without causing too much trouble. Naturally devoutly religious people will be greatly offended by the idea that Allah, Yahweh, or Jehovah is really just an alien being in a spaceship??

But thats why its fiction. Faith does not require proof, and actually relies on the lack of proof. If God came down from the sky tomorrow and said "I AM HERE", no one would probably believe it was God. So having Faith that he is there is all we have to work with. No proof is sufficient.

I will stop my ramblings now........
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Cylon gods

Postby hegemon » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:41 am

The religion in Battlestar Galactica is very strange. Several things have happened on the show that establish that both the human religion and the Cylon religion are true, even though they contradict one another. I don't know where Ron Moore is going with this, unless it is part of his belief that the less "science fictiony" a program is, the more viewers it will attract. And, since people on either believe that there is only one God but that all gods are true, the show just reflects that lack of logic among the viewers.

As an example of the belief in one God and in all gods simultaneously, consider the Christians. (Sorry to keep picking on them, but they are my friends and neighbors, so I know more about their beliefs.) They believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and the Bible says there is only one God, and that anyone who believes in other gods (goes whoring after other gods) should be stoned to death. On the other hand, most Christians I know believe that the American Indian is close to nature and good and peaceful (they haven't read any history at all) and that the American Indian gods and holy men can work miracles, and that those beliefs are good.

It's the common but to me baffling ability to believe two contradictory things at the same time.
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No way to generalize on religion

Postby RulkeTheCharon » Fri Sep 08, 2006 1:20 pm

Well I am beginning to see my confusion about this forum.

The title says "Religion" in "Science Fiction", but there seems to be very little if any "Science Fiction" in any of the previous posts before mine. I seem to have been way off base posting something meant to apply to both topics.

This forum appears to be about Religion bashing and general politics. I thought this was the SF Site, but again I am new here so I guess I don't know the rules.

Anyway, I am not sure what types of Christians you know that believe in one God but also believe the American Indian religion of God in the water, air, animals, etc. Of course there are different parts of every religion spectrum. Many people call themselves Jews, but never wear the beanie on their heads, do not go to temple on sabbath, and even eat pork. Just like christians have premarital sex, lie-cheat-steal, only go to church on Easter and Christmas (if even that) and never cracked open a bible.

So I am just saying that you should not generalize that the Christians you met who are so open to Animism and Indian spiritualism, may not represent the more conservative base of Christians.
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no rules

Postby admin » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:01 pm

The only rules in the forum is that there are no rules. Well, actually, there are a few rules: no libel, no spam, no flaming. But as for staying on topic...while we are delighted to have posts that stick to the topic, such as yours, we allow a lot of latitude in the discussion.
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