Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sci-Fi, Worldviews, and Spirituality

Christianity Today recently posted an article titled, "Sci-Fi's Brave New World: How the genre draws us to its own views of redemption."

Just a day or two ago I was thinking about the contrast between the generally optimistic humanist worldview often presented in Star Trek and the seemingly bleak outlook of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. There appears to be a trend from hope to despair in these genres, though I certainly wouldn't apply that statement to all examples of contemporary sci-fi.

In addition, I'm still surprised to hear people say of television, movies, books, etc., "It's just a story" or something similar. Of course they are stories, but they are much more. Underlying every story are ideas -- worldviews, philosophies, etc. And where is the Christian story in this milieu? Are we even trying to tell it artistically and creatively without compromising the message?

What are we to do? For starters, the author of the article offers this advice: "First, we must become more discerning viewers and consumers of popular culture ... Second, the church needs to broaden its apologetics work to include serious analysis of and response to popular culture, now our most potent form of religious persuasion."

See my review of Redeeming Pop Culture for more on this sort of approach and why I, too, believe it is very much needed in our day.

The Church needs to get its head out of the sand and intelligently evaluate the "new literature" of film and television, not by wholeheartedly embracing it, but by using our heads for the glory of God.


Caleb Woodbridge said...

Have you seen any of the modern version of British sci-fi show Doctor Who? Showrunner Russell T Davies is a firm atheist, and the show is full of optimistic humanism, but interestingly often draws heavily on Christian imagery, to the extent that it can be (and by some people has been) mistaken for Christian allegory, though once you examine it closer, there's usually a clever humanist spin on the imagery. The character of the Doctor, the immortal time-traveller who is the hero of the show, is in theory a scientist, but at the same time, he functions as a mythic figure of almost messianic stature. It's a very interesting mix.

Robert Velarde said...

Interesting. No, I have not seen the show. Your description reminds me of the "materialist magician" described by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man -- a sort of blend of scientist and sorcerer, seeking in some way to dominate or control nature. But I may be way off, as I have not seen the show!