Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?

SFSignal asks the question:

Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?


Next question?

P.S. The answers given at the link are much fuller and more interesting than mine.

Mike Resnick, for example, explains why

You can't generalize about this large a field.

Lou Anders is amazed, but says,

I would have to say that SF is not antithetical to religion. It is, however, analogous to religion in that both science and religion are attempts to grapple with the mysteries of existence and the wonders of the universe.

Ben Bova's view:

Is there an inescapable conflict between science and religion? If there is, I believe the basis for the conflict lies in this: The scientific attitude is to search for new knowledge, and to understand that all of our ideas and views are subject to change, based on new information. Science depends on testing, and measurement. Religion, on the other hand, usually takes the attitude that the believer knows all he or she needs to know, and that any challenge to reveal truth is dangerous and should be rejected.

But I have to wonder if he doesn't misunderstand religion, or at least religion as I experience it.

Gabriel McKee:

Of course not!

and Jay Lake:

Not at all.

Carl Vincent says,

I would have to say 'no'.

D.G.D. Davidson:

The answer is no.

John C. Wright offers both a really short and a really long answer:

Short Answer: No. Science fiction is not necessarily antithetical to religion.

which bear some similarity to my own answer, but they illuminate theirs.

Adam Roberts says,

Despite being godless myself I don't think the genre I love is atheist at all.

and goes into a discussion of what he sees as its Protestant roots.

Larry Niven comes down against generalizing:

Some science fiction writers lean away from religion. Some don't.

Andrew Wheeler:

SF isn't necessarily's just anti-irrationalism. The more rational a religion is, the more likely it is to be treated positively in SF.

Michael Burstein:

Science fiction is only as antithetical to religion as science is.

In other words, science fiction is as antithetical to religion as its practitioners make it. And the range of practitioners means that science fiction is in no way antithetical to religion by its nature alone.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. offers a kind of "no, but":

I don't see religion and science fiction as necessarily antithetical, but I do see science fiction being at least perceived as hostile to any form of blind belief that rejects demonstrated scientific findings on the basis of belief.

The long answers given at the site are fascinating.


There's a floow-up at SFGospel.

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