Christian Science Fiction

Looks like Jesus is going into outer space.

spacejesus

Well… not quite like that.

Christian filmmakers are going to be discussing how to incorporate their beliefs into science fiction movies at an upcoming conference:

Christian filmographers will take a detailed look at the widespread cultural impact that Science Fiction has had through film during the Fourth Annual Christian Filmmakers Academy (CFA) to be held January 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas…

“Sci-Fi movies of the last fifty years have provided America with more than Hollywood entertainment,” [Doug Phillips, founder of the Christian Filmmakers Academy] remarked. “The popular genre has been responsible for persuading American thrill-and-chill-seekers that fictional speculation is reality — especially in regard to the creation of the universe, life on earth, and the ‘certainty’ of extraterrestrial life.”

The Symposium will examine this remarkable transformation of fiction into perceived “fact” and explore ways Christian filmmakers can reestablish responsibility in the genre and more carefully and truthfully examine the topics of Creation, time and eternity, the human soul, and the grand potential of science and technology.

I don’t think Phillips is saying we believe Men in Black is a documentary. Rather, he seems to be implying that things like evolution are fictional. And that we “know” there is life on other planets — I’ve never heard any scientist say it’s definitive, since there’s no evidence of it. Yet.

It’s fun to use your imagination, but I don’t know anyone who believes science fiction is anything but fiction.

(Outside of Scientologists, I mean.)

And how can you talk about reestablishing “responsibility in the genre and more carefully and truthfully” examining various topics when your own beliefs include a virgin birth, resurrection, and several-hundred-year-old people?

If “Christian Science Fiction” is anything like Christian forays into other secular worlds, I guess we can look forward to watered-down, B-movies in the genre soon.

(via io9 — Thanks to Eddie and Sarah for the link!)

  • http://cupcakesandmace.com Ms Constantine

    Gah, is there anything they wont try to ruin? Please leave my beloved Sci-Fi alone Christians!

  • Ryan

    Wow, Mixing christianity and science. Thats bad enough, but Science Fiction? Thats like a punch in the face for me.

  • mikespeir

    When I started writing Sci-Fi I was a Christian. My first three novels pushed the religion. Then I had this awful run-in with reality….

  • Wes

    The Christian Filmmakers Academy, a project of Vision Forum Ministries, is a technical bootcamp for aspiring culture-changers to be held January 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas. Students will learn principles of scripting, casting, writing, directing, and marketing a Christian film — along with intense Christian worldview instruction.

    I take it that “intense Christian worldview instruction” is the politically correct term for “indoctrination”.

    The scariest thing about fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity is that they see EVERYTHING as a mechanism for converting people to their religion. Public schools, courtrooms, political office, movies, music, art, philosophy, history, business, foreign policy—the primary function of every aspect of our culture is for them just a way to lure in more sheep into the fold.

    If I had to do a Christian-themed sci-fi, the fundagelicals would be the Borg.

  • Ryan

    Sigh, the only thing we have left if Fantasy, you know. Stuff with magic. But then again, Something tells me that these people will find away to “christianize” that too.

    Mabye I should just cryofreeze myself for a good thousand years. Maybe the insanity will go away. Probably not, but its good to have hope. Ahem, exscuse me, “rational hope”

  • Wes

    Ryan Says:
    January 4th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Sigh, the only thing we have left if Fantasy, you know. Stuff with magic. But then again, Something tells me that these people will find away to “christianize” that too.

    They already did. See: Chronicles of Narnia.

  • Gentry

    I thought the Bible *was* science fiction.

  • Eliza

    It’s fun to use your imagination, but I don’t know anyone who believes science fiction is anything but fiction.

    (Outside of Scientologists, I mean.)

    And Raelians, and a whole bunch of UFO-believing-nutcases, and apparently Joseph Smith & at least a few Mormons:

    Belief in extraterrestial life in Mormonism has existed since its earliest days. It is taught that there are many deities governing planets throught the universe. Joseph Smith himself stated,

    “…the great universe of stars has multiplied beyond the comprehension of men. Evidently each of these great systems is governed by divine law; with divine presiding Gods, for it would be unreasonable to assume that each was not so governed.”[1]

    It is taught that these other planets are inhabited by human beings.[2]

  • Eric

    I thought creationism was science fiction.

  • Jesse

    I think that there are ways to insinuate Christianity into science fiction without ruining the genre. One example is the Sarah Connor Chronicles. There are Christian themes and characters in that show that do not detract from the entertainment value.

    I like religion in my fiction, since religious metaphysics are at their root, very powerful fictional stories. Seeing them in fiction reinforces that idea.

  • http://www.rekounas.org/blog rekounas

    Right!? The Christians will have to penetrate the secular Jews that are running the show in Hollywood first. 2nd, their movies won’t make any money. Those two things will squash this whole idea in the first place. They may get away will making biblical stories into movies, but people walking around in a Science fiction film pretending that the earth is 6,000 years old and that evolution never happened will never fly.

  • Richard Wade

    “The popular genre has been responsible for persuading American thrill-and-chill-seekers that fictional speculation is reality — especially in regard to the creation of the universe, life on earth,…”

    Oh the irony of literalist Christians complaining about such a thing.

  • http://www.slightlysouthofsane.com Tony Miller

    Has anybody else been watching Battlestar Galactica?

    There is no mention of Christianity and one of the actresses has to keep her cross tattoo covered when that part of her shoulder is exposed for a scene but the message in unavoidable. But, it’s done in an interesting way.

    If you haven’t seen the latest series (2003 – current) do yourself a favor and check it out. You want to see the miniseries (3 hours) first.

    I’m really surprised Christian groups haven’t been raising hell over the series.

  • http://yangandcampion.googlepages.com Margaret Yang

    “If I had to do a Christian-themed sci-fi, the fundagelicals would be the Borg.”

    Wes, that’s perfect!

  • http://failingtheinsidertest.blogspot.com/ Jeffrey

    >when your own beliefs include a virgin birth, resurrection, and several-hundred-year-old people?

    While picking a favorite is hard, my choice is Genesis 6, where demons breed with human women and start a mighty race of giants of the half-demon, half-human.

  • Jesse

    Another one of the great things about religion in science fiction is that it shows us what religion would look like if it were true.

    Case in point: “Final Fantasy, the Spirits Within.” One of the scientists believes in spirits, so he develops an entire science based on empirically discovering spirits. He makes scanners that can see them, and he even powers some of his technology with non-sentient plant spirits.

    In real life, because the supernatural isn’t true, the shamans who believe in souls go around telling us that souls cannot be empirically detected.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    I’m a little surprised that “Christian filmmakers” apparently just means “Creationist filmmakers”.

  • Epistaxis

    Well, they’ve never had much market penetrance in the SF community. I guess this is just like “Christian rock” – offer a neutered version of a genre that isn’t usually so compatible, and see if anyone will take it up as an alternative.

  • Indigo

    Epistaxis – I think Christians are going to find it hard going trying to break into sci-fi. A lot of respected writers, like Asimov, have also been high-profile atheists, and I think the fandom as a whole isn’t very friendly to proselytising. On the other hand, the way some Trekkies behave comes pretty close…

  • Oli

    There is certainly room for religion in Sci-fi but you can’t come at it from a proselytizing angle or you lose your viewers.
    Shepard Book from Firefly was a great overtly christian character, but the show did not revolve around either him or his religion. I’m fine with that. I accept that religious people exist and don’t mind them in my fiction.
    However, these kooks clearly don’t mean to make stuff like that. They want bible centred, christian sci-fi. Therefore other beliefs must be shown to be wrong, non-religious good guys must eventually convert (and be shown to be better for it) and bad guys must not be christians. Of course, this isn’t remotely believable to a viewer and hence it won’t work as sci-fi.
    Interesting shows dabble in grey, like Battlestar galactica, Firefly, Babylon 5, etc.
    Even overtly black and white sci-fi such as star trek and star wars is actually rarely black and white. Hence goody Han Solo is hardly a christian soul (in fact he is a gambling, womanising, drug smuggler), and the Evil Klingon turn out to be deeply honourable and brave, while the noble federation make alliances with the unwholesome So’na to further their aims. And so on and on.

    Still, i’m all for looney fundamentalists throwing their money into a deep dark hole. If they can’t spend it wisely, better they spend it making a show that won’t make it past pilot than trying to fund creationism in schools.

    Where i can see it taking off is amongst looney christians themselves. Just as christian rock has. Of course, this won’t make the kind of money needed to hire quality actors and good effects.

  • SarahH

    Some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy books have religious influences, undertones, etc. The Hyperion Cantos and Tolkein’s work comes to mind. I also love BSG and I found the religious themes in Star Trek: DS9 fascinating.

    However: any sci-fi book, show, movie, etc. that overtly pushes an agenda (religious, economic, political) had better have a damn good story to make it worth my while. It isn’t very sci-fi, traditionally, to do that – the genre explores possible consequences of belief systems often, but I’ve rarely read a truly preachy sci-fi book. Hopefully I won’t start running into them now…

    Also: I agree that seeing Christian organizations (for economic gain or simply for converts) use every possible trend, medium, avenue, etc. to spread their message gets old. I mean, can’t we have anything without having a Christian version pop up? Apparently not.

  • Curtis

    Many classics SF books are overtly religious. A Case of Conscience (James Blish) and Canticle for Liebowitz (Walter Miller) are probably the most famous. “Case” is certainly pro-Christianity while “Canticle” is more ambivalent but written by a Catholic. Catholic priest/scientists have often been depicted in a positive light (e.g. Father Carmody in Philip Jose Farmer’s stories).

  • grazatt

    mikespeir Says:

    When I started writing Sci-Fi I was a Christian. My first three novels pushed the religion. Then I had this awful run-in with reality….

    What are you works? I would like to know?

  • mikespeir

    What are you works? I would like to know?

    Oh. Sorry to mislead. I haven’t published any of them. (Don’t worry. You’re not missing much.)

  • DSimon

    The popular genre has been responsible for persuading American thrill-and-chill-seekers that fictional speculation is reality.

    “Thrill-and-chill-seekers”? Are there really people out there who still have trouble differentiating science fiction from horror? What is this, the 50s?

  • mikespeir

    Are there really people out there who still have trouble differentiating science fiction from horror?

    I need you to talk to the Sci-Fi Channel, DSimon. They don’t always seem to know the difference. It’s irksome to turn it on thinking I’m going to see Sci-Fi and get horror instead.

  • llewelly

    The Mormons have a big head start on these guys. For starters, Prophet Joesph Smith Jr. , waaay back in the 19th century, wrote in the Pearl Of Great Price that God lives on a world near the star Kolob. And they have Orson Scott Card, who wrote the Call To Earth series. Many points of Mormon doctrine refer to peoples on other worlds – all of which Jesus visited.

  • John B Hodges

    There have been SF movies that were obvious Christian propaganda. “Signs”, starring Mel Gibson as I recall, and the latest film version of Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS. The latest remake of I AM LEGEND with Will Smith changed the whole message and meaning of the story, with a “happy ending” at a military compound with a BIG church in the center. And there is the continuing rule, observed in many movies, that any character identified as an atheist must get religion by the end; witness “Chocolat” and “Flatliners” and “The Day After Tomorrow” (professed atheist saves one book out of the NY public Library- guess which book.)

  • John B Hodges

    I just watched the DVD of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Now THAT is a film I’d recommend to all for its treatment of religion. Not precisely a happy ending, for atheists or believers, but a good showing of awful truth.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    There have been SF movies that were obvious Christian propaganda. “Signs”, starring Mel Gibson as I recall

    With that movie, I think the difference was that Christianity was treated as a set of beliefs rather than a set of truths: the main character returns to his belief due to the events in the movie, but by attributing more significance to the events of the movie than there are. Note that none of the other characters convert.

    In other words, it was a non-Christian movie (with literal space aliens, keep in mind) with a Christian character, not a Christian movie, in my judgement, and I wasn’t put off in the least by the ending.

    I think it’s an excellent movie, and an excellent example of how Christian themes can be properly incorporated into non-Christian works.

  • John B Hodges

    To Vystrix Nexoth: “Signs” was Christian propaganda because it was a portrayal of the psychology of atheism, according to the standard Christian libel. Recall that Gibson has lost his faith and become an atheist following the death of his wife. His son at one point tells Gibson “I hate you, because you let Mother die”. Gibson later says he hates god because God let his wife die. So, really, he’s not an atheist, he really still believes in God, he’s just angry at God for childish reasons. By the end he gets over it and returns to his faith. Another point, recall that the aliens are banished because of a discovery made “in the Middle East”, not otherwise described. The aliens in this movie are just demons/devils/bogeymen, they have no technology, no apparent motivation for what they do. There is no science in this “science fiction” movie.

  • Alan

    Hi. I’m a Christian- had to check out the site and read everyone’s comments, since I’ve long been into the idea of Christian sci-fi. First off, every writer presents their beliefs through their work, or else they are not being true to themselves. Most of the early major scientists held a belief in Jesus/God, and that did not deter them from creating what we call the laws of science.
    Battlestar Galactica was written by a mormon, Gary Larson. His show has mormon doctrine all through it. And it was a great show (I’m not pro-Mormon.) Fantasy? Tolkien was as CS Lewis described a card carrying Christian- he helped CS Lewis become a Christian. Did Tolkien ruin fantasy or define it?
    Every writer has an agenda- to get people to suspend their disbelief and believe in their ideas, whether for the duration of a novel, a movie, or a series. To present ideas as possible fact is not new to science or science fiction. To me evolution is just as much science fiction as God is to many of you. It doesn’t make me any less intelligent or anti-science, it just means I like my science entirely proveable without piecing bits and pieces of ideas together to form a doctrine and tell people they must believe it or they are stupid. Even Tesla, the greatest scientific mind to ever grace our planet, held a belief in something supernatural, though he said he would choose buddhism, but in any case belief in the supernatural did not make him less intelligent or anti-science.

  • http://www.christianscifi.com Kevin

    Come on guys, there’s room for all of us. Christians are a big segment of society and we’re interested in art, music, literature and film. One of the best scifi books you’ll ever read is “Dream Thief” by Stephen Lawhead (a Christian) check it out. Just one of many. Google christianscifi.

  • http://Republibot.com Republibot 3.0

    I’m gonna’ side with Kevin here. While the Christian SF I’ve read is mostly horrible, it’s a big genre and just because no one’s done a good book in that style yet doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

    And really, if SF is all about asking hard questions taking new ideas for a spin, then why *wouldn’t* it be a great forum to discuss religion in?

    I mean, Joe Straczynski (Athiest) placed all kinds of religious aspects (Both pro and con) in Babylon 5, and Philip K. Dick spent, what, a half dozen novels or more asking the really tough questions about God and Religion. And the conclusions he came to were frequently the kind that would disturb both Athiests and religious folk. That’s a good thing, because when you become too complacent in your belief pattern, no matter what it is, you start to get prejudicial and closed-minded.

    I mean, saying “You can’t have religious SF” is every bit as closed-minded as a militant Christian saying that he can’t read SF because it’s sinful for contradicting the bible.

    My opinion. Your mileage may vary.

  • Charltan

    The Christian Filmmamkers are a bunch of home-schooled kids. They look like the Children of the corn. Bad movies, even worse actors and horrible stories….Yech

  • http://Republibot.com Republibot 3.0

    That’s a wild – and pretty funny – generalization. Certainly I’ve had some run ins with the “Children of the Corn” types, but speaking as a Christian myself I can say they annoy most of us as much as they annoy most of you.

    On a related topic, my website recently did a roundtable discussion on this very topic, trying to reach a consensus as to whether “Christian SF” is even possible, much less valid and/or desireable. We went out of our way to be fair and evenhanded, and included an atheist and a religious Jew. The results were entertaining and a bit surprising.

    If any of you are interested, check it out here http://www.republibot.com/content/roundtable-discussion-6-christian-science-fiction

  • Kevin Raftery

    Funny, Christianity gave rise to the very science that led to sci-fi.

    Christians are responsible for modern science, advanced mathematics, the arts and humanities.

    It has played an all too important role in the developement of modern man and the modern world, to cast it aside so thoughtlessly.

    As far as the stories in the Bible, Christians are not the only ones who read these stories…The Jews also believe in a 6000 y/o world and a 900 y/o Methuselah.

    There is so much we don’t know about our history, and many things are being brought to light.

  • http://TruthSleuth.net Michael A. Bowie

    I would agree that most Christian Science Fiction reads like a long preach but I think the exception is LEDNORF’S DILEMMA by David Conn. Also I think christian science fiction authors should move their characters with actions more than words. Even Jesus and the Prophet Nathan knew that when they told a story. But a good example of actions before words is in LOGIC’S END. But least we forget many atheist science fiction authors also seem to have a lot to say about everything too.

  • Avealoie Sparger

    Athiests only called the actions in Genesis magic and alchemy and critcize others for believing in it. Presto, “Out of Nothing its appears!”


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