I decided to take a look at the way that religion is portrayed in Science Fiction. I’m ignoring Fantasy and Sci-fi Horror because those are pretty much genre’s unto themselves. Sci-Fi horror especially leaves room for the unexplained and therefore the existence of God, because nothing is quite so terrifying as something you just don’t understand.
But let’s look at religion in three specific Science Fiction universes that stand out to me: Star Wars, Foundation, and Warhammer 40K.
Star Wars: the Jedi temple is the only sign of religion that I’m aware of in this series. The mysterious Force that holds the universe together, around which the Jedi religion is formed, is surprisingly distant and impersonal. It seems to me not unlike building a religion around the super-soldier chamber that created Captain America. And while the precepts the Jedi proclaim are done so from the temple, the very force which defines the Jedi religion is simultaneously accessible and used by the evil Sith who use the force to oppress the galaxy.
Foundation: ok now it’s been a while since I’ve read Assimov’s foundation, so please forgive me if I get some of the details wrong, but the only religion I recall in the entire book is the one that makes the planet Foundation a sort of Holy place. Not because some great prophet lived there (although I suppose you could make an argument for it) but because Foundation had the technology. Nuclear reactors, laser cutters, and so forth that allowed Foundation to create a religion around itself. Kinda like silicone valley creating a cult of Sillica that has to be in your home before you are allowed to buy a computer. Ultimately, the religion is used to leverage military victories over superior forces.
Warhammer 40k: Anyone who knows this particular universe knows that religion means the Cult of the Emperor in which it is considered an honor to be one of the 1,000 souls sacrificed to him on a daily basis to maintain his failing health.
What do all these have in common? They all assume that Religion is an oppressive force used to keep people in line and maintain order while Reason is the only true way to freedom.
Now I’m not about to put down reason. Reason is very necessary, let’s not shunt it off to one side. Wisdom, counseling, and administration, all gifts of the spirit, would be in poor shape without reason. It’s one of the four sides of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral for theological reflection. But in the same way that a house with only one wall provides little shelter, only one side of the quadrilateral provides a poor life. Reason must be accompanied by Scripture, our own experience with God, and the tradition of the Body.
The four sides are Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Which one do you need to work on? Any you spend too much time on?