This week’s question was suggested by Lou Anders, who not only received extra Mind Meld credit redeemable at imaginary nerd shops everywhere, but who also must serve penance by answering his own question:
Q: Two of the most highly regarded fantasy authors – Tolkien and Lewis – were also Christians, whereas the fathers of science fiction were atheists, and SF itself, it could be argued, grew out of Darwinism and other notions of deep time. Is science fiction antithetical to religion?
is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe
. According to Locus
, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.
You can’t generalize about this large a field. For every atheist or agnostic author you can name, I’ll name a religious one. For example: Gene Wolfe is a devout Catholic. Ray Lafferty was a devout Catholic. Avram Davidson was an Orthodox Jew. Michael A. Burstein is an Orthodox Jew. Etc, etc, etc.
In 1984 I wrote a very controversial novel titled The Branch, in which God and the true Jewish Messiah (not Jesus) were the two villains of the piece. The poor producer/director who optioned and made it got excommunicated from his church and thrown out of his country (Andorra)…and yet if you do not accept the existence of God and the truth of the Old Testament, there’s no story. So was it irreligious, or was it simply Politically Incorrect religion?
I am an atheist, yet I have given God speaking parts in four or five humorous stories, and have treated religion with respect in literally dozens of stories and novels. On the other hand, I know many devout Christian and Jewish science fiction writers whose religious beliefs are deeply personal, and who choose not to share them fictionally with their audience. Are they irreligious because they do not evangelize in print?
You can’t just a book by its cover…and you can’t necessarily judge an author’s (or a field’s) religious beliefs by that book’s contents.