Science fiction is a complex “what if” statement. It allows us to contemplate aliens and
their worlds, utopias and dystopias of our own human making, and interference into our normal world
by what for many is considered the “enemy” of religion. But is science truly the enemy of religion? I
think not, and great evidence to this effect can be seen in the genre of Sci-fi.
There is more to it than the sub-genre of Christian sci-fi, with entries like L’Engle, Lawhead, or Rousseau. For example, beyond the obvious connection of Christ-like heroes in all fiction like John Connor, Neo, or Superman; a long list of strong realistic religious and moral characters exist in even the most popular entries. Shepard Book is
the resident Christian preacher on the Firefly class ship Serenity, various characters in The Stand, including the villain recognize God’s hand in the world, and even Dana Scully of the X-files was rarely seen without her iconic cross necklace.
Similarly, faith is often a theme in sci-fi. The film Signs was in many ways less about an alien invasion and more about a family’s struggle with faith in the face of loss, and the Dune series of books and films asks us to ponder what the line between messiah and antichrist might be in a far-future of interstellar travel and advanced biology, wherein the “Orange Catholic Bible” is now only the text of an obscure sect.
Finally, sci-fi challenges our notions of science and reality, and thus we must respond as Christians where we can. C.S. Lewis’ underrated Space Trilogy deals directly with the idea that earth may be alone in its fallen state against the rest of creation, while Planet of the Apes suggests that evolution is an ongoing process that may make us a mere footnote on this Earth.
Science fiction challenges us scientifically, socially, and yes, also spiritually. And that is a very good thing!