“Christian Science Fiction”

by Mike Duran · 1 comment

That’s the name of the new project I’m working on. (The pic on the right is just a placeholder until a more professional cover is designed.) Aside from the fact that I’m fascinated by the intersection of pop culture, the speculative fiction genre, and religion, it’s the reception of my previous non-fiction work, “Christian Horror,” that has piqued my interest in a similar topic. Frankly, I’ve been surprised at the number of people who found my discussion on “the Compatibility of a Biblical Worldview and the Horror Genre” so helpful and encouraging. Just last week, I received this email from a writer who was reading Christian Horror:

As a horror author and fan that gave his life to Christ 9 years ago, this book is packed with all of the explanations I have never been able to give words to when asked how I could love both Christ and the horror genre.

I had been published by a small press… a horror novel that was pretty grim and dark and with no real redemptive qualities. The same could be said for my short stories; while they did not promote evil, they certainly did not represent Christ, as I did not know Him.

Since then, I’ve continued to have some minor small press success (mostly Christian or faith-based horror). I have a new novel being released in June through another small press and am finding that while I’m still not at the success level I’d like to be, Christ has been rewarding me through my writing. He’s connected me with some great writers that have motivated and encouraged me (namely James Rubart and Robert Liparulo) and I’m continually amazed at how He can work through even horror writing.

I’ve had the Christian horror discussion many times, with believers and non-believers, writers and non-writers. And man, oh man, I wish I had already read your book. It’s not only better equipped me for those conversations, but has also given me more motivation than ever to continue trying to establish myself within this sometimes polarizing genre.

So again, thanks for your amazing book.

Wow! This is the kind of thing that keeps us writers going.

While the sci-fi genre may not be as openly loathed among evangelicals as horror, there is still a great deal of animosity and apprehension towards it. James A. Herrick, in his article Sci-Fi’s Brave New World, notes the profound impact that science fiction has had on shaping contemporary thought and even spiritually, saying,

…science fiction has played a disproportionate role in modern myth crafting. The genre has profoundly shaped not only the entertainment industry, but Western spirituality as well.

Indeed, much of sci-fi’s influence has been counter to that of a “biblical worldview.” While some more conservative believers have gone to extremes in their suspicion of the genre, others rightly note the influence of humanistic, pantheistic, atheistic, and anti-religious themes in much sci-fi. In their interview with sci-fi veteran John C. Wright, the National Catholic Register asked the author to “give some examples of successful portrayals of spirituality in classical science fiction and contemporary pieces.” Wright responded,

Hmm. Very difficult, because there are so few. All science fiction books are spiritual descendants either of HG Wells, a socialist atheist, soft SF that mock religion as a sham, or of Jules Verne, who wrote hard SF, where religious ideas do not come up at all.

Science fiction has always been leery of religion.

This animosity or suspicion continues to this day. David Laughlin at Answers in Genesis’ Science Fiction: A Biblical Perspective cautions that,

Although science fiction has predicted a number of useful technologies, the genre is permeated with unrealism, humanism, occultism, New Age philosophy, Eastern mysticism and evolutionism which are of no value in the real world and are condemned in the Scriptures. It is because science fiction has its roots in evolution that the false belief systems mentioned have emerged and thrive in the genre.

A high percentage of scientists have been inspired toward their profession by reading science fiction during their youth. Unfortunately, they are also influenced by its evolutionary worldview.

So is sci-fi antithetical to a biblical worldview? Must we tread with extreme caution when watching or reading sci-fi fare? Is the deification of Man or Technology, or an Eastern view of the Cosmos lurking behind the veneer of most contemporary sci-fi storytelling? Are there religious themes in science fiction that support a biblical worldview? How do believers writing and working in the genre incorporate their beliefs into their storytelling?

Like Christian Horror, I hope to divide this work into five main sections:

  1. Religious Themes in Science Fiction
  2. Science Fiction Themes / Elements in Scripture
  3. Evangelical Culture and the Science Fiction Genre
  4. Christian Science Fiction—Towards an Apologetic
  5. Objections to Christian Science Fiction

Likewise, I think it’s important to clarify my intentions — I am not seeking to establish a new sub-genre (“Christian Science Fiction”), but to encourage and facilitate authors of faith in fully embracing, both in appreciation of and participation in, the science fiction genre. C.S. Lewis famously said that “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” In this sense, I am employing the term Christian Science Fiction as a catch-all for Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox believers of broad persuasion. Also, while I want to explore religious themes more broadly, this book is written from an evangelical point of view and will seek to address evangelical readers and publishers and the scarcity of sci-fi titles in evangelical circles.

Along the way I hope to discuss issues like:

  • Extraterrestrials, Sin, and Salvation
  • Transhumanism and the Deification of Man
  • Why Dystopian Themes Resonate w/ Scripture and Human Experience
  • Sci-Fi as Religion
  • AIs and the Soul
  • Bible Prophecy and Fluid Futures
  • Ancient Astronauts and Human Origins
  • Technology and the Search for Transcendence

Really, there’s much to cover and this guarantees to be a fun project. Along the way, I’ll be looking for articles, posts, essays, and books that touch on these subjects. (If you know of any, please contact me. I would greatly appreciate it.) In all of this, I am moving on the assumption that science fiction can be a powerful tool in asking questions, exploring the nature of Man and the Universe, discerning the nature of reality, and reinforcing the majesty of the Maker and His creation. Sci-fi is a genre that Christian writers should actively seek to engage.

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