Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Faith

It is interesting to note how science fiction and fantasy literature, contrary to what one might think, nearly always gravitates back toward religion. Even in cases where the creators set out with an anti-religious or at least a “more enlightened” understanding of the universe approach to creating their imaginary world. More often, it seems that this genre is the tool of people with a religious agenda. Just think about three prominent examples:

George Lucas set out to build his world based in part on the ideas of Philosophy of Religion guru Joseph Campbell. These state that all religions and myths are equally valid and only representative of some sort of human psychological need most clearly seen in primitive, animistic cultures. Ironically, instead of subduing institutional religion it generated a new form of belief (sometimes ironic, sometimes not) that is about as institutional and dogmatic as any other.

Gene Roddenberry created “Star Trek” as an instrument to evangelize the world with the message of Secular Humanism. To some degree he succeeded, as many of his more avid fans either embrace his views or have adopted the Trek mythology as a new near-religion. After his death the stories told in his universe tended to shy away from his ideals. It seems the Secular Humanism is a bit too optimistic about humanity to really be believed.

Even fantasies like the “Doctor Who” stories, that were begun as a scientific-historical educational show for children and almost never touched on the topic of religion except in the rare “social studies” approach, have gone a bit supernatural. In this case it is not Animism or Humanism but a more New Age variety of spirituality. In the most extreme examples the new century versions of the Doctor have bordered on almost divine.

It seems that in our reality, humans are hard wired to worship. Either evolution has inexplicably and absurdly steered us to faith and purpose-seeking, or there really is a Creator who has a plan for our existence. An ultimate Storyteller, if you will.

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