Talk:List of religious ideas in science fiction

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Childhood's End[edit]

Childhood's End is not really about religion. It's not about millenialism in any normal religious sense; it's really about evolution of the human species. I think Clarke would be surprised to be told it's about religion (though he might think it's about what religious should be, since he never seemed to have very much time for it).

Some of these others need a little explanation. I've only read the first four Foundation books, and it was a long time ago, but there was no real discussion of religious themes in the first three, and only slightly in the fourth. DJ Clayworth 16:34, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Childhood's End theme is obviously religious. Go back and read the conversation between Karellen and Stormgren in the Chapter One. They discuss religion. Arthur C. Clarke might not be religious himself in any sense you would recognise or he would admit but the novel is replete with religous references and symbolism. Berry College

In almost all of his books, Clarke makes some comment about religion. Most of the time, they are against religion; sseing as Clarke is an atheist, this is predictable. In The Trigger, the hero, Horton, is an atheist, who, at one point, is forced to watch maniacal overly-religious individuals murder innocent people. In Rendevous With Rama the main character is also an atheist who only sends a religous message for his friend just in case there is a god. In an interview, Clarke said "religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses." I hope this clears up some of the debates over Clarke's view of religion. CJK

You can see other Clarke's books where religion is an important topic: "the hammer of God" (where we see the creation of a new religion and how it really works), "the light of other days" (because of time travelling tecnology, we can see the "real" Jesus). Also in "3001" it is a main discussion topic. RODRIGO

The conclusion of Childhood's End bears a remarkable similarity to the concept of the "Omega Point" described by the 20th century theologian Teilhard de Chardin. That alone qualifies its inclusion here, in my opinion. Pinkbeams —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.188.234.183 (talk) 21:30, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree that Clarke's Overmind seems eerily similar to de Charden's supernatural Omega Point (as opposed to Frank Tipler's post-human Omega Point). Childhood's End definitely belongs here. PlatinumBeetle (talk) 17:29, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Expressionism[edit]

The main link between religion and science fiction is Impressionism, I think. Both are vaguely fantastic and highly emotional. Could this be worked into the page anywhere? 72.1.206.21 18:01, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

What's that story?[edit]

What's the story where, in the far future of the Universe, a god of the gaps, its power dwindling, flees from a Universe-spanning civilization that has no need for religion: but when finally cornered, discovers that mankind has morally evolved, and is willing to forgive its, er, trespasses against them? -- The Anome 11:10, July 15, 2005 (UTC)

And what about A. E. van Vogt's The Book of Ptath, where religious belief (in you, by others) is the source of god-like powers, rather than the result of them? -- The Anome 11:10, July 15, 2005 (UTC)

Why was the Jesus section wiped?[edit]

I have created the following and added it to the article, I worked quite hard at it. I think the theme of people going back to the time of Jesus is highly relevant to the article. Katieh5584 wiped it all out without giving any explanation. Can some explanation be given, please?Adam keller 19:38, 9 October 2006 (UTC)


Time-travelling to meet Jesus

One of the consequences of assuming time travel to be possible is to open up the possibility of modern people travelling beck to the time of Jesus Christ - and specifically, to the crucifiction. This raises complex moral and religious questions dealt with in very different ways by different writers.

  • In Arthur Porges's story The Rescuer,(1962) scientists in 2015 face charges of having deliberately destroyed a three-billion dollar project. They tell the judges that instead of the carefully controlled experiment in time-travel they had planned, a religious fanatic had taken over the machine, and headed for Golgotha with a rifle and five thousand rounds. His attempt to save Jesus might have wiped out the entire present world as we know it, and the only way to stop it was by destroying the machine. The affair must be kept from the public, since some might identify with "The Rescuer".


  • In Garry Kilworth's story Let's go to Golgotha (1975 - published in a collection of the same name), tourists from the future can book on a time-travelling "Crucifiction Tour". Before setting out, they are strictly warned that they must not do anything to disrupt history. Specifically, when they crowd is asked whether Jesus or Barabbas should be spared, they must all join the call "Give us Barabbas". (A priest absolves them from any guilt for so doing). However, when the moment comes, the protagonist suddenly realizes that the crowd condemning Jesus to the cross is composed entirely of tourists from the future, and that no actual Jewish Jerusalemites of 33 A.D. are present at all...
  • In Richard Matheson's The Traveller (1954), a professor who is a confirmed sceptic is for that reason chosen to be the first to travel in time to see the crucifiction, in a kind of travelling cage which makes him invisible to the people of the past. Seeing the actual scene, he feels an increasing empathy for Jesus, and finally attempts to save him and is hauled back to the present by the monitoring conductors of the experiment. He comes back a changed man - though he had seen no miracles, he did see "a man giving up his life for the things he believed" and "that should be miracle enough for everybody; in short, without actually being aware of the invisible professor from his future, Jesus in his stance had managed to make him a believer.
  • In Poul Anderson's book There Will Be Time,(1972) a young Twentieth Century American discovers that he had been born with the ability to travel through time without any need of a machine. Reasoning that there must be others like him and that Jerusalem at the time of the crucifiction is a good place to try locating them, he goes there and walks through the street singing the mass, which is of course meaningless to people of the time. This does help to get located by agents of a time-travelling organization, who take him to their headquarters in the fat future -without having gotten to see Jesus at all.
  • The most extensive treatment of this theme to date seems to be Michael Moorcock's book Behold the Man (1966). The Twentieth-Century Karl Glogauer, a Jew obsessed with the figure of Jesus (and with Jung) and who also appears in other Moorcock books, travels in time to the year 28 A.D. He meets various New Testament figures such as John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary (whose conduct is anything but virginal).
  • Finding that Mary and Joseph's child Jesus is a mentally retarded hunchback, who could never become the Jesus portrayed in Scripture, Glogauer himself begins to step into the role of Jesus. In the end, he does fully become Jesus, and dies on the cross (having sepcifically asked Judas to betray him). This raises the philosophical issue of whether or not it even matters whether the historical Jesus ever existed.


The above was posted two days ago and no reactions. So,unless somebody has a good reason to offer why I shouldn't, I am going to to include this section in the article again tomorrow. Reactiuons, anybody? Adam keller 19:30, 11 October 2006 (UTC).

PLEASE DO IT! I AM GOING TO READ THOSE BOOKS! Thanks a lot Adam for the information. You have to read some Clarke's books. RODRIGO

Interesting article. I'm surprised it doesn't mention Firefly, which is almost littered with religious references. 63.68.0.194 21:16, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

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Fantasy fiction[edit]

I've just been reviewing some of the revert/edit warring going on over the inclusion of fantasy fiction on this list.

My personal view is that fantasy should be included on this list only when the fiction in question addresses religious issues in a significant or novel way. Most fantasy fiction includes some reference to supernatural beings and alternative theology, but it's usually just a backdrop in pulp fantasy. Good SF, on the other hand, asks deep questions about such theology--usually by highlighting the specific differences between real world theologies, and the fictional alternatives.

If the fiction does that, then it doesn't matter whether it is technically considered fantasy or science fiction, it should still be included. Remember that the line between fantasy and science fiction can be quite blurry at times (consider Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, for example). Also remember that "SF"--the literary term for the genre--can mean Speculative fiction rather than science fiction. Perhaps the title of the article should be changed to reflect that.

The recent edit regarding Lois McMaster Bujold's books didn't really give enough information to understand why they were notable. However, according to her bio page (see previous link), Palladin of Souls won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards--which makes it pretty clear that the SF community probably thought she was asking some deep questions and not just writing pulp fantasy adventure stories. If more description can be provided about the nature of the theology in her books, then I see no reason why they can't be included here. "Substantial consideration of free will" and vague references to theology that is "consistent and well-presented" just isn't enough to go on. --Pariah (talk) 04:06, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Those particular books are fantasy novels, not science fiction. This list is for religious ideas in science fiction. I don't see why this is such a point of contention - it seems pretty black and white to me. They should not be included, no matter how deeply they delve into theological and philosophical considerations,. They belong on a similar article for fantasy fiction - along with, for example, Eru Illuvatar/the Valar of Tolkien and Lewis' Aslan/the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. I'll create it myself, if I have to. Renaming this article to incorporate speculative fiction as a whole is another idea, although the list could become pretty convoluted after a while if it were made to accomodate religious ideas present in literature from all those genres deemed "speculative". Knyght27 (talk) 09:33, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
I suppose a sister article would work also if there's enough material to warrant it. My concern is that the line between fantasy and science fiction is often not clear at all--and the difference is often moot for the concerns of the article. I'm hoping the author of the edit will comment here and we can decide which method is the most appropriate.--Pariah (talk) 13:33, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
I created the sister article and moved the Lois McMaster Bujold entry. More often than not the distinction is clear, as it is with this case. Knyght27 (talk) 07:36, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

EC's Weird Science and Weird Fantasy[edit]

EC comics published several stories that don't really fit into any of the categories but fit into the general concept of the list.

"Project...Survival" (Weird Fantasy #12) A space retelling of the Noah story.

"He Walked Among Us" (Weird Science #13) A spaceman on a four year expedition mission uses his high technology to help the locals (curing a boy with antibiotics, using dehydrated pills to turn water into milk and created food) and defies the local priests. His ship is destroyed by an asteroid resulting in all records being lost and 2,000 years later another ship finds out the spaceman was executed on a rack with it becoming their religious symbol and the spaceman the son of their god.

"The Reformers" (Weird Science #20) Three space men dressed in scifi versions of bishops land on planet to reform it of evil. There are greeted by a man named Peter and told they are not needed for there is no crime, no immorality, or any of the evils seen in other societies. They decide to create these evils themselves so that they can blame these evils on literature, clothing, and alcohol as they have done on previous worlds (including Earth). They contact their home base and we learn that their leader is the Devil and the planet they are on is Heaven.--BruceGrubb (talk) 16:20, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Merge[edit]

I think this article would be more useful if it were merged into Religion in speculative fiction. Firstly, these articles have basically the same topic. Yes, there is a difference between 'science fiction' and 'speculative fiction', but it's a fairly subtle one and the former is usually considered a subset of the latter. Secondly, this list is, well, pretty incoherent and poorly organised, trying as it does to list every science fiction story that deals with the very broad concept of religion. This material might be better handled by being condensed into paragraphs and merged into an article, rather than being left as a crufty list of examples. Robofish (talk) 23:35, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

How about the latter merged back into the former, from whence it was originally content forked? Jclemens (talk) 02:00, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that one is a list and the other is an article so it's not clear how to combine them. RJFJR (talk) 20:50, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done It was easier to merge that article into this one for now. DoctorKubla (talk) 19:03, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

One story, Multiple Ideas[edit]

What about stories that deal in-depth with several religious ideas on this list, such as C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy? Should they be listed under multiple headings or should a new section of "multiple themes" be created? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.4.152.151 (talk) 06:16, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

The above post was from me by the way. (right before I had an account) PlatinumBeetle (talk) 18:05, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Since nobody has answered me I'm just going to put them in all relevant categories for now. PlatinumBeetle (talk) 16:53, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Angels[edit]

Why was the Angels section removed? We still have a Demons section so I don't see a consistent logic here. PlatinumBeetle (talk) 17:00, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Errors in story placement[edit]

I noticed that Out of the Silent Planet was listed under Messianism but I've read that series and don't see how it fits at all. If someone can explain why it belongs than okay but otherwise I think it should be removed from that section, especially since the space trilogy is already going to be in multiple sections (if it turns out works should only be under one section than this is definitely the wrong place for this book). Out of the Silent Planet and it's sequels are great books and make thoughtful theological points so we don't want them stuck in a section where they don't belong and we don't want them to take up the whole page either. So what should you do if you see a story in a section it doesn't fit in? Do you just fix it without asking? PlatinumBeetle (talk) 17:20, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Yep. Be bold! -- DoctorKubla (talk) 19:03, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Suggestions[edit]

Religion in speculative fiction was merged into this article, but I thought the suggestions on the talk page were worth preserving. Quite a few stories/authors that aren't already on the list. DoctorKubla (talk) 19:12, 4 August 2012 (UTC)