Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SF Signal's Mind Meld

The blog SF Signal has a section called the "Mind Meld" that polls sf writers and enthusiasts on interesting topics.

The topic for the latest Mind Meld is, "Is science fiction antithetical to religion?"

They asked me for a contribution, so you can see my modest little essay on the subject wedged between much more substatial responses from big-name authors. Particularly, I recommend the lengthy essay from John C. Wright:

Science fiction thrives on the Horror of Darwinism. That sense of weirdness is a twin brother to the Sense of Wonder of American pulp fiction. We science fiction people like it when Copernicus yanks the world out from under our feet: to us, it is like a roller-coaster ride.

Is the disorientation of Darwinism antithetical to religion? Maybe or maybe not, but H.G. Wells, Progressive, is antithetical to religion. The last line of the book is telling. The narrator is looking up at the stars. "There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope."

In other words, the soul of man (that which is more than animal in us) can find solace and hope, not in religion, but in the vast and eternal laws of matter, i.e. in physical science. Even though the book never mentions God, the moral atmosphere of the tale is rich with those odors that waft from Victorian notions of Progress, Eugenics, Darwinism, Materialism. The Progressives will instinctively recognize the scent and smile.

Progressives, let us not forget, regard religion as one of those things to be left behind on the junk pile of history, along with monarchy, slavery, femininity, personal property, marriage, death and taxes, and whatever else will not exist in the Brave New World of our loving Big Brother. [more...]

For the opposing view, the best probably comes from James Morrow:

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. [more...]
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