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But the marriage of science fiction and religion is undergoing a revival of sorts. And where science fiction literature was once dominated by male authors Philip K. Dick, Robert A. This edition of ReligionLink explores why science fiction and religion so often go hand in hand. Can science fiction help people explore questions of faith? What can science fiction contribute to personal faith or spirituality? Here are a few of the more interesting science fiction and religion novels, both new and classic:.

Some of the most popular science-fiction-based films and film franchises since the s have looked at the big questions of religion. Here are a few:. He has also written about religion and the films of M. Night Shyamalan and the use of artificial intelligence in the films of Steven Spielberg. Collings traces a link between belief in Mormonism and an affinity for science fiction. He blogs at Collings Notes. Contact via his blog or website. Russell W. He frequently blogs about religion and science and religion and science fiction.

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He has an interest in media as a writer, producer and actor and frequently comments on spirituality. He says the strong religious underpinnings in the Star Wars franchise have been a part of why it has resonated so well with audiences over the years. Steven Hrotic is a part-time faculty member in religion at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

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Space travel, futuristic societies, and non-human cultures are traditional themes in science fiction.

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From humans attaining "godlike" stature through technology or nature, and shaping a "new" earth to the values and morals held dear by Mormons as well as other Christians. He seemlessly incorporates Mormon doctrine within a framework of science fiction without marring or trivializing the literary style. Contrary to most popular science fiction literature, faith and scientific advancement are married in Card's books, rather than bitter enemies.

In his four book series about the life of a boy who unknowingly commands a fleet that almost completely annihilates an entire race named Ender Wiggin, Card starts with a compelling tale of war, innocence, and fear of the unknown. Yet later in the series his Mormon faith begins to shine through as Ender Wiggin becomes a messianic figure for a two different sentient races, and his own children go on to become savors of a planet in their own right.

This is very similar to the Mormon idea that humans can attain the status of a God. The scientist then cause all manner of life-threatening problems to occur, so he could learn from them. Very soon the new race out paced the human race. The scientist determined they were a danger, and the new race protected themselves behind an impenetrable sphere, leaving the humans to wonder what will happen next.

Could this be a prophecy come to pass in our post-Christian society, where God has "plagued" humanity with problems, and humanity has shut Him out? Arthur C. Clarke, perhaps best known for his series, is adept at weaving religious themes into stories of science and technology.

Another one of his most acclaimed works is the Rama series. The story, written with the help of Gentry Lee and found in four books, begins with a large cylindrical ship entering the solar system. A few earth scientists sent to investigate stay on board as it blasts off into the cosmos. As the story progresses through the novels, there are found to be three separate races, who interact with each other on a journey to the Node, where they learn about how and why life were was created. As explained by an alien caretaker:. The set of Prime Monitors was created by God at the same moment the universe began and then was deployed to learn as much as possible about the evolutionary process.

The Nodes, the Carriers, and all the other engineering constructs you have seen were in turn designed by the Prime Monitor. The entire activity, including what has been going on since the first Rama spacecraft entered your solar system years ago, has as its objective the development of quantitative criteria, for use by the Creator, that will enable subsequent universes to conclude in glorious harmony, despite the chaotic tendencies of the natural laws.

The universe is a huge evolutionary experiement, the care of which was delegated by God to other created beings. A group of "pilgrims" is making its way to the Temple of the Shrike, an icon of a religion tied to temporal occurrences. Apparently the Shrike Time Tombs are moving back in time, causing tides of time in the area.

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The ruling Hegemony has decided that since the Tombs are about to open, and this is to be the last pilgrimage before access to the planet Hyperion is cut off. The book shares the stories of each pilgrim on the journey. Father Hoyt, a pilgrim, tells his story by showing the journal of Father Paul Dure, a researcher among a group of humans called the Bikura who live beyond the great flame forests of Hyperion on the edge of a high cliff. The Bikura were considered a legend, but Dure had evidence that they existed, so he made the journey, and began to live among them, seeking to understand their ways.

Apparently some Catholic missionaries had visited Hyperion, and the Bikura years before, but had not set up a diocese there. There were lasting effects though. The Bikura murder his guides, but allow him to live as he "belongs to the cruciform" which is easily seen because he wears the shape, his crucifix necklace.

Dure finds that those who belong to the cruciform can never experience the "true" death, they cannot die. To show this, the Bikura kill all who are not of the cruciform. The Bikura do not follow Christ, the Catholic church, or any other religious personage, they simply belong to the cruciform, and they seem to very simple minded people. Dure sees that the Bikura daily make a trip over the cliff, and then return. He asks what happens there, and receives no answer.

He asks what would happen if he were to follow them. He is told, "If you try to go down the cliff we will hold you down on the grass, take sharpened stones, cut your throat, and wait until your blood stops flowing and your heart stops beating. Dure discovers that Bikura who die simply reappear alive within a short period of time.

The Bikura discover that Dure can remove his cross, and seize him. They accuse him of not being of the cruciform after all. Dure protests that he does follow the cross. One Bikura points out that he does carry a cross, but the rest agree that he is not of the cruciform. They are about to kill him when he announces that he has followed them over the cliff and worshipped at their altar, and wishes to be of the cruciform.

There is much debate over what to do with him. Eventually, they destroy his possessions, except his personal journal, and make him part of the cruciform. They take him to the base of the cliff, to the entrance of the Labyrinth which leads to the Shrike Time Tombs. The Shrike comes, and the Bikura place a cross around his neck. The next morning he finds that he cannot remove it, the cross shape even had the same DNA as he did.

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He cannot even cut it off. The cruciform keeps the Bikura, and now Dure alive forever. As they die, they are remade again and again by the cruciform. It also does not allow them to leave the area. Dure makes several attempts to leave the Bikura, but is always stopped by blinding pain. Finally Dure decides to kill himself once and for all, and goes into the flame forests. The problem was that the Cruciform would not let him die. He kept being killed and revived, over and over. He had been crucified again and again, and resurrected again and again, for seven years. Father Hoyt found him, and took his cruciform as his companions destroyed the Bikura village.

So now Hoyt was seeking the Shrike for answers. Hoyt is killed, and Dure regenerates out of his body from the cruciform, and plays a part in stopping the Shrike, or the Lord of Pain as he calls it. Father Hoyt begins his story with the rather cryptic statement, "Sometimes there is a thin line separating orthodox zeal from apostacy.

Religion in Science Fiction

Dure, in his zeal to compromise for his life inadvertantly became a permanent member of that group. In the vast universe of Star Trek numerous mentions and examples of religious icons and imagery can be found. In one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, the god-like character "Q" becomes human, but regains his "godhood" when he sacrifices himself to save a race from extinction.

There is also some apparent animosity between God and man shown in the series. The character "Q" is considered to be omnipotent and omnipresent. His reality is unquestioned, but even with his power, the crew of the Federation Starship Enterprise show him nothing but irritation, anger, and contempt. The space station orbits a planet that worships the Prophets, non-temporal energy beings who "inhabit" a stable space "wormhole" that serves as a passage from the Alpha Quadrant into the Delta Quadrant.

The inhabitants of the planet have a prophecy about an Emissary of the Prophets who will come. He will be called by them and they will give him back his life. Into that role steps a StarFleet Captain assigned to the station. The Federation thinks of the Prophets simply as wormhole aliens, but several episodes deal with these beings and their relationship with the planet and the station below.

The religion around the wormhole-aliens is treated with respect, and sometimes shown to be not altogether untrue. Major Kera, and adherent to the religion and a member of the station's command crew, said in a episode entitle Emissary, "Faith, if you don't have it you can't understand it. If you have it, you need no explanation. There is another major religious element in the series.