“The Battle For Science Fiction’s Soul.”

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Nick Payne is a Christian Blogger who’s had his “Sanctuary” site up and running for at least three years, and he posts occasionally under the name “Galahad” over on B5.com. I bumped into him over there in a conversation about religion, where he instantly impressed me with his thinking. He linked me to one or two articles on his site, and the one below tends to reflect an ongoing concern that we have here on the site, so I figured I’d give it a shoutout and link to it.

There is a perceived ‘great gulf fixed’ between Science and Theology, and by extension, obviously, there’s one between Science Fiction and Religion. I’ve gone back and forth on this issue over the years. On the one hand, if SF is a genre for exploring ideas, then why should Religion be taboo? On the other hand, it occasionally bristles me that something sacred could be diminished by grafting it on to something mundane. It’s sort of like when Teddy Roosevelt wanted to get “In God We Trust” taken off of our money because he felt it was demeaning to God to have Him mentioned on something that pretty much clearly belonged to Mammon. As you know, Ye can’t serve both.

What I find most interesting about this - and most concerning - is the lack of tolerance on the theoretically-rational “Scientific” side of this conflict. There’s a sense that SF is only for “enlightened” people who know better than to believe in some silly tribal superstitions, and that the presence of any kind of theological speculation (Unless it’s deliberately intended to be ultimately negative) is a case of barbarians at the gate. There is an unmistakable stench of arrogance to this attitude.

I’ll be the first to admit that the end of the RDM Galactica was probably the worst-ever misuse of “God” in an SF show, a quite-literal Deus Ex Machina that ruined the entire series, and pretty much rendered it useless. I’ll be the first to admit that it can be done badly, and I’ll even go so far as to admit that the badly-done instances probably outnumber the well-done instances by like 2:1. That said, you can’t say that The Civil War never happened just because “Gone With The Wind” isn’t particularly historically accurate. You can’t claim that The United States is invalid because our Constitution lacks well-defined limitations for the Supreme Court. You can’t claim Thailand should be nuked back into the stone age because you’ve got a peanut allergy.

I guess it’s the exclusivity of it that bugs me. As one who believes in God *AND* in Evolution, I can understand both sides of the conflict, and really both sides are kind of the same: Fundamentalists have built a literal interpretation of Scripture up into the lynchpin of their faith, and if some of that turns out to be figurative, then the whole belief structure they’ve set up - which feels safe to them and gives them some meaning - risks tumbling down and destroying their lives. As one who’s had that happen to them (Multiple times), I can assure you, it’s pretty rough. On the other hand, scientific Fundamentalists have built up a literal interpretation of only verifiable fact*, which has become the lynchpin of their view of the universe. If it turns out that there is Something Else out there that can’t be detected, inspected, directed, codified, or even adequately defined, and that this Something Else occasionally takes a Hands on approach to the Universe, well, that’s going to cause their whole belief structure to tumble down, too.

That said, such animosity is unbecoming to both Christians and Scientists.


*- Except on Global Warming, of course. <G>